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1. Coloring Page Tuesday - Piano Playing Tiger

     Did you know I used to play piano? Yup - ten years of lessons. But it's been about 15 years since I've had the chance to play. Here at Hollins, President Gray was kind enough to loan me a book of music - Clementi's Sonatinas, which I grew up playing. It was hard to find a window, but I finally did and I played Clementi for about a half hour. The truth is, I was horrible. But the good news is I didn't forget everything and enjoyed myself immensely. I wonder if I'll have access to pianos in Edinburgh?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     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.

0 Comments on Coloring Page Tuesday - Piano Playing Tiger as of 7/28/2015 8:18:00 AM
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2. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

Wow! It’s week NINE of the Book-Jumper Summer Reading Series! NINE…..where did time go this summer?

As you many already know, this series is my way of inspiring parents who are looking for creative ways to keep their kids reading this summer. All of the books I am jumping into feature protagonists are girls or women and most of our showcased authors are women as well.

I will be offering up a combination of themed weeks, great novels, booklist giveaways, and blog post recaps so be sure and stop by to discover more wonderful ways have A Bookjumper Summer while Exploring Our World and Beyond!

Book-Jumper summer Reading

This week I am jumping into another delightful book from another female author. Eleanor Coerr was a Canadian-born American writer of children’s books, including Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and many picture books. She was born in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, Canada, and raised in Saskatoon. Sadly, Eleanor passed away in 2010 but her legacy lives on in the wonder books she has written including Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

The story goes that Eleanor revisited Hiroshima i 1963 and saw the statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park. Impressed by the stories she heard about Sadako’s talent for running, courage when faced with cancer, and determination to fold one thousand paper cranes, Eleanor was inspired to find a copy of Kokeshi, Sadako’s autobiography. The book inspired her to create a biography of Sadako Sasaki, on that American children could read and enjoy.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes has been translated into many languages and has moved both children and adults to write plays, perform ballets, compose songs, and collect money for peace statues-all celebrating Sadako and her wish for peace. Eleanor has visited schools all around the world encouraging her audiences to work for a nonviolent world. Folded cranes are everywhere, and always underneath the statue of Sadako in Hiroshima’s Peace Park. SOURCE.

Sadako

Book Review from Hannah Rials
There are many beautiful stories created in this world—stories of love or peace. The story of Sadako Sasaki is a story of love, peace, and hope. Sadako is the best runner in her class, and her greatest wish is to be the best runner in her entire school and to make the junior high team. She is a very superstitious girl who believes strongly in the power of lucky signs—a spider crawling across the floor, a cloudless sky, and paper cranes.
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
            Sadako lives in post-World War II Hiroshima, Japan, every day experiencing the effects of the atomic bomb dropped on the city. People are mutilated, and many are now suffering through the “atom bomb disease,” also known as Leukemia. Everyone thinks, especially the children, it won’t happen to me. I’m healthy. I’m strong.
            Sadako is practicing her most favorite activity in the whole world when the dizziness starts, and never gets better, until one day it is all too much to handle. Sadako is admitted to the Red Cross hospital where she is poked and prodded until it becomes routine. Her friends and family visit her every day.
            One day, her best friend Chizuko brings her a beautiful treasure—a golden paper crane. She tells Sadako that if she can fold 1,000 paper cranes, she will get better and live to be an old, old woman. So Sadako sets out, and her older brother hangs the hundreds of cranes from the ceiling of her quiet hospital room, always holding onto the hope that she will recover.
Sadako
Sadako’s story does not have what everyone would call a happy ending. But everyone who reads her story grasp the hope and love that this dear child felt in a bleak post-war time. Her story is simple and beautiful. I was very much moved by Coerr’s writing. I felt the love and the pain, the strength and the hope. There are always two sides to a story. There is always a consequence to every action. We live in trying times, and history is not a vision of peace and tranquility. But if we hope for peace, and show our love, we can make a difference. Sadako and the testament that she has left in Hiroshima demonstrate that.
Sadako
Something to Do
1.    In the back of Eleanor Coerr’s book, she gives easy to follow, step by step instructions on how to make paper cranes like Sadako.
paper cranes
2.     Every year during Japan’s memorial peace day, every one comes out and places floating lanterns in the river. Go HERE to learn how to make your own floating lanterns.
            Sadako
3.     Sadako loved her good luck signs. Here are some more to keep your eye out for:
  • Rainbows
  • Crickets
  • If a ladybug lands on you
  • Finding a four-leaf clover
  • A head’s up penny
Sadako good luck signs
What are your good luck signs?
 ***

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The post Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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3. Why Writers Should Be Imperfect: An Interview with Stephen Guise [Podcast & PDF]

ImperfectionistCoverStephen Guise is the author of the new book How to Be an Imperfectionist, and I was excited to be able to interview him for The Renegade Writer…because we writers often let perfectionism keep us from getting out work out there.

In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • The difference between chance and failure
  • How confidence = comfort
  • Why quantity is more important than quality
  • The perceived benefits of perfectionism
  • How setting the bar low can actually help you get more freelance writing jobs
  • Why partial success is still success
  • What’s better…thinking or acting?
  • Much more!

You can download the PDF transcript here and download the sound file here (which has my awesome new intro music!).

StephenGuiseAlso…when I asked Stephen for a “cover image,” he misunderstood and sent me a headshot. I decided I’m totally going to include it as eye candy for the ladies!

Enjoy — and feel free to pass these files around to your writer friends!

P.S. Carol Tice and I are offering the audit version of our 4-Week J-School RIGHT NOW! Cart closes on July 30, which is two days from today. Want to gain the skills and confidence to land — and write — lucrative article assignments? Check out the success stories from our previous students on the J-School page. Work at your own pace…your access never ends!

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4. Six Ways to Unleash the Magic of Subconscious Writing

In the language of a recent Suits episode, I'm a "grinder" rather than a "rainmaker." Writing doesn't come easily for me, and I spend countless hours staring at sentences and rewriting them fourteen times, only to discover that the first version was probably the best. I add layers, and subplots, and symbolism, and connect the dots through sheer hard grunt work.

Sometimes I hate writing.

But then there are the rare flashes of brilliance that I swear don't come from me. The moments of magic when there's a muse on my shoulder. Or a miracle. Or all of the above. That's the part of writing that makes the rest worthwhile.

We all want more of those creative insights, but how do we get them?


Read more »

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5. Lucas (Le Beau Series book 5 K.I.S.S. Book 1) Cover Reveal

0 Comments on Lucas (Le Beau Series book 5 K.I.S.S. Book 1) Cover Reveal as of 7/28/2015 8:04:00 AM
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6. Review: House Immortal by Devon Monk

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I loved House Immortal.  I purchased it when it was an Amazon deal of the day, and I read it on the plane to Tampa two weeks ago.  Everything about it felt fresh and new, and I really liked Tilly.  I didn’t like the cliffhanger ending, but since I have the next book in the series cued up on my Kindle, the irritation didn’t last long.

Matilda Case has been living a low profile existence on the family farm, taking care of her senile grandmother, as well as the creatures her father stitched together.  Tilly herself is a galvanized, a being stitched together from bits and pieces.  When she was a child, she became ill and would have died if her memories hadn’t been housed in the stitched together body.  Now she’s hiding out on the farm, pretending to be human, while avoiding allegiance to any particular House.  In Tilly’s world, there are only twelve galvanized beings (thirteen, counting Tilly), they gave up their rights to be considered human to stop a war, and now they are possessions, fought over by the powerful Houses that rule a post-apocalyptic Earth.

When the head of one of the Houses, Slater Orange, of House Orange, learns about Tilly, he’s sure that his mind and memories can be stitched into another body, too.  With Quentin, Tilly’s genius brother, a prisoner in his House, he’s racing against time to see his dream realized before the disease ravaging his body kills him. With Tilly’s life hanging in the balance, Quentin is reluctantly forced to cooperate with Slater.

Tilly has been worried about Quentin. He hasn’t been home in years, and she hasn’t heard a word from him.  When the peace of the farm is shattered by the arrival of Abraham, one of the galvanized, she’s forced to leave her home and pledge to a House.  Otherwise, because she doesn’t have any rights under the law, the Houses will fight for her and she could end up with any of them.  Determined to make the best of a bad situation, Tilly has decided to use her new connections to locate her missing brother.

That’s the basic plot, and I don’t want to give away any more details.  I enjoyed the pacing and the characters.  Tilly is one tough, independent woman, and she doesn’t let anyone intimidate her.  Because she has the strength of a galvanized, she’s doesn’t back down from confrontations.  She’s also basically immortal, which also gives her confidence in tense, life-threatening situations.  I guess if I was that hard to kill, as well as that valuable, I wouldn’t be a pushover, either.

There are some light romantic elements between Tilly and Abraham.  Abraham also serves as a mentor as Tilly negotiates the confusing new world she’s become enmeshed in.  I liked the concept of these powerful, immortal beings that are also powerless in the society they live in.  Abraham brokered the peace to end the war, convincing the other galvanized to give up their rights under the law to prevent the slaughter of more humans.  Some of the galvanized are not in good situations and they are mistreated by their current contract holders.  Once they sign a contract with a House, the word of the House leader is law, and they have to follow whatever orders they are given, whether they agree with them or not. 

If I have one complaint about the story, I thought that the pacing got bogged down a little near the end.  I didn’t care about another roll call of the galvanized and their accomplishments; I wanted to find out what happened to Quentin and Abraham.  Otherwise, I thought House Immortal was exciting, suspenseful, and creative.  I can hardly wait to crack open Infinity Bell, the next book in the series.

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

One hundred years ago, eleven powerful ruling Houses consolidated all of the world’s resources and authority into their own grasping hands. Only one power wasn’t placed under the command of a single House: the control over the immortal galvanized….

Matilda Case isn’t like most folk. In fact, she’s unique in the world, the crowning achievement of her father’s experiments, a girl pieced together from bits. Or so she believes, until Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, stitched with life thread just like her and insisting that enemies are coming to kill them all.

Tilly is one of thirteen incredible creations known as the galvanized, stitched together beings immortal and unfathomably strong. For a century, each House has fought for control over the galvanized. Now the Houses are also tangled in a deadly struggle for dominion over death—and Tilly and her kind hold the key to unlocking eternity

The secrets that Tilly must fight to protect are hidden within the very seams of her being. And to get the secrets, her enemies are willing to tear her apart piece by piece.…
FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!

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7. Review: The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I read The Girl Who Could Fly because I received a copy for a blog tour.  I love middle-grade books, and since it’s been a while since I read one, I was excited to start this.  I loved the author’s voice, especially while Piper is still at the family farm.  She’s a surprise to her older, salt of the earth parents, and when the lively, happy Piper is born, they are taken aback.  They are, while not joyless folk, serious and dedicated to the land that has been in the family for generations.  They don’t need much and are content to get by, farming the land, tending their livestock, and fitting, uneventfully, into their community. 

Then along comes Piper.  She floats.  Her mother Betty immediately realizes that her daughter isn’t “normal.”  To a woman who embraces being normal and not tempting fate, who relishes doing things as they have always been done, Piper is an unexpected hiccup in her road of normalcy.  Betty decides that it’s best to keep Piper on the farm, homeschooled and doing her chores, so that the neighbors don’t start gossiping about them.  Piper upsets her plans one summer day, when she watches a momma bird push her babies out of the nest.  Piper wonders if she can fly too.  And once Piper sets her mind to something, nothing is going to get in her way until she accomplishes it.

An unfortunate event at the Fourth of July picnic, the first that Piper’s been allowed to attend, has disastrous consequences.  The entire community learns that Piper can fly.  Soon, the entire world knows.  When Dr Letitia Hellion and her crew from the top secret institute I.N.S.A.N.E. show up at the farm, promising to school Piper in her abilities, and to keep her safe, the McClouds have no choice but to let their daughter go with them.  What Piper finds isn’t exactly the paradise she’s been promised, but it takes the help of a mean supergenius to figure out that she’s actually a prisoner and not a student at the high tech facility in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by miles and miles of snow and ice. 

I loved Piper and Conrad.  Piper is completely guileless, the total opposite of Conrad.  Conrad is frustrated and just plain mean, and Piper’s happy  attitude grates on his last nerve.  He picks on her mercilessly, and Piper, who doesn’t have much experience in social settings, first tries to win him over, and when that doesn’t work, tries to ignore him.  Of course he gets her into trouble every chance he can, until one disturbing event makes Piper realize that all is not as it seems at the institute.  Conrad and Dr Hellion have been locked in a battle of wits for four years, and Conrad believes that with Piper’s help, he’ll finally get the best of her.

I liked how Piper fought to be true to herself, even at a terrible price to herself.  While she yearns to fit in, she begins to realize that being who she is is more important that being popular.  Her sunny disposition does endear her to others, regardless of how hard they try to resist.  I liked the message that being different isn’t bad, and everyone deserves a chance to be who they really are.

The Girl Who Could Fly is a quick read, with action, adventure, and danger.  It’s also about learning to get along with others despite their differences, and the importance of being yourself.  I am looking forward to The Boy Who Knew Everything, because I enjoyed Conrad so much.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:


You just can’t keep a good girl down . . . unless you use the proper methods.

Piper McCloud can fly. Just like that. Easy as pie.

Sure, she hasn’t mastered reverse propulsion and her turns are kind of sloppy, but she’s real good at loop-the-loops.

Problem is, the good folk of Lowland County are afraid of Piper. And her ma’s at her wit’s end. So it seems only fitting that she leave her parents’ farm to attend a top-secret, maximum-security school for kids with exceptional abilities.

School is great at first with a bunch of new friends whose skills range from super-strength to super-genius. (Plus all the homemade apple pie she can eat!) But Piper is special, even among the special. And there are consequences.

Consequences too dire to talk about. Too crazy to consider. And too dangerous to ignore.

At turns exhilarating and terrifying, Victoria Forester’s debut novel has been praised by Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga, as “the oddest/sweetest mix of Little House on the Prairie and X-Men…Prepare to have your heart warmed.” The Girl Who Could Fly is an unforgettable story of defiance and courage about an irrepressible heroine who can, who will, who must . . . fly.

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8. The sea

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9. Fun and Loose Illustrations by Clair Rossiter

jean tinguely

buck-pal4 one_461 two_461

Clair Rossiter Website >>

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10. Hooper-Scharf -QRD?

No, no, no. It is NOT some sort of mental disorder. QRD is the site that interviewed me and I did promise that when the interview was published I'd let everyone know!

So here is the link:http://www.silbermedia.com/qrd/archives/74thooper.html

Have fun!

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11. Co-op Truck

"Co-op Truck," black and white gouache, 5 x 8 inches.
I have a half hour while they unload the food co-op truck, so I set up my sketchbook on a garbage can. The driver waits in the shade, leaning against the truck.


The preliminary drawing has accurate measurements, but it is very rough and incomplete, just a map of the big shapes.


I lay a light wash over most of the scene (lighter than it appears here), using some warm and cool colors from my watercolor set. This is to lower the tone just a bit from white so that I can come back up to white with the gouache.

I begin to define the dark values. I want to push the values to very light and very dark, not too many middle tones.


The driver comes over to take a picture of the sketch with his cell phone.


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12. Spotlight and Giveaway: And Then He Kissed Me by Kim Amos

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for And Then He Kissed Me by Kim Amos!

About AND THEN HE KISSED ME

Five years ago, Audrey Tanner flung caution to the wind and herself into the arms of an emerald-eyed bad boy biker she met at the White Pine Asparagus Festival. Two blissful weeks together convinced her that Kieran Callaghan was The One-until The One blew town without a word, leaving her brokenhearted. Now, starting a new job at the new Harley Davidson showroom, Audrey is floored to meet her new boss: Kieran. He’s still hot as hell, but she won’t fall for his sexy smile again. This time, she’s calling the shots.

Kieran never thought he’d return to White Pine, Minnesota, much less see Audrey again. Gorgeous and smart as ever, she’s just as irresistible as he remembered. She still doesn’t know why he had to leave-or that he’s missed her every day since. But he can’t deny he wants more than the no-strings fling Audrey proposes. As things between them heat up, Kieran must choose between the secret he’s sworn to keep and the woman he never stopped loving.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LbHPNI
B&N: http://bit.ly/1LaPHCq
iTunes: http://apple.co/1HwZYVV
BAM!: http://bit.ly/1KSZsUL
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1V7mgEL

About Kim Amos

A Midwesterner whose roots run deep, Kim Amos is a writer living in Michigan with her husband and three furry animals.

http://www.kimamoswrites.com/

https://twitter.com/@KimAmosWrites

https://www.facebook.com/KimAmosWrites

EXCERPT:

In one smooth motion, he scooped her off the Harley and into his arms. He shook his head when he saw her getting ready to protest. “You yell or whine, and I’ll carry you outside and lock the doors on you. You stay quiet, we can talk in the back room. Agreed?” He saw an angry muscle working in her jaw, but she nodded nevertheless.

And then, just like that, Audrey Tanner was back in his arms.

He’d been so sure that he’d be able to return to White Pine and avoid his past altogether. So how he came to be carrying part of it in the form of Audrey Tanner, how her arms came to be looped around his neck, how her smell was everywhere, intoxicating him as he stormed toward the back room, was a turn of events he could never have predicted. It was also a dangerous set of circumstances, and he never should have let it get this far.

He had a job to do, dammit. He was here to build on his future—not relive the past

When he reached one of the back offices, he kneed the door open, then placed her roughly on the floor. She stumbled a little in the heels, but righted herself, glaring at him. He was about to tell her to change clothes and get out of the dealership, when he heard a pop. Something on the bustier came loose—he wasn’t sure what—and before Audrey could stop it, the front panel covering her chest slid downward. Her mouth made a horrified little O as her breasts sprang from their constrictive covering. Her nipples pebbled at the sudden exposure to cool air. Kieran got a hungry eyeful before Audrey scrambled to cover herself with a mortified, “Oh!”

Instinctively, he reached forward to help her. “I’m so sorr—” he started before she swatted his hand away.

“Stop it!” she cried. “Get back!”

Just then, Fletch Knutson walked through the office door, and pulled up short. His neat moustache twitched. His ice blue eyes flicked back and forth between them. “What in holy hell is going on here?”

“It’s nothing,” Kieran said, stepping away from Audrey.

Fletch’s face was bunched with concentration, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. His gaze settled on Audrey.

“Did he hurt you?”

Audrey clutched the broken bustier to her chest. “No, of course not,” he interjected. “It was just an accident.”

“I’m waiting for her to answer,” Fletch said.

Audrey’s knuckles whitened around her handful of clothing. He realized right then that she held all the cards. Her hand trumped his.

She could take him down with a smattering of words, could pretend like this had been more than it was and put his job at risk. Kieran forced his breathing to be steady—in and out, calm like it wasn’t the last play of the game—and tried to remember that the woman he’d lost his heart to five years ago had a blazing white soul, the stark opposite of his black one. She wasn’t like him, she wasn’t always calculating how to turn the odds in her favor.

Audrey had been so kind, so willing to trust him and believe the best. But even her shining golden goodness—her love for her friends and family and her hometown, her faith in the people around her—couldn’t lighten the darkness inside him, even though five years ago he’d wanted it to.

Underneath the makeup, Audrey’s face was pale. “No,” she said, “he didn’t hurt me. It’s just a misunderstanding.”

Kieran let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

“But I’d appreciate it if you’d tell him that he can’t fire me. I need this job.”

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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13. A Dr. Seuss Celebration for What Pet Should I Get?

It is the release day for the newer-than-new new book from Dr. Seuss, What Pet Should I Get?

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14. Writing in ... Indonesia

       At DeutscheWelle Monika Griebeler has a Q & A with Indonesian author Feby Indirani, Indonesian literature 'needs exposure to be noticed internationally'.
       Among her observations:

The infrastructure of the Indonesian publishing industry isn't yet fully developed. A potential market is there but the industry is still in a poor condition.
       She also notes:
But regardless of that, we still see gems of literature and popular writings that have both market success and good intellectual reception such as the works of Ayu Utami, Seno Gumira Ajidarma or Eka Kurniawan.
       As I've mentioned previously, this fall is seeing a double-dose of Eka Kurniawan in English, as two of his novels are being published in translation: Man Tiger, coming from Verso (see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from Amazon.com), and Beauty is a Wound from New Directions (pre-order your copy from Amazon.com). Publishers Weekly has the early reviews -- here and here -- and they're both starred; fully on board the Kurniawan-bandwagon, they also have a Writers to Watch: Fall 2015 profile of him.

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15. Seagull Books profile

       In Flight of the Seagull in The Caravan Anjum Hasan looks at: 'How an Indian publisher brought Europe home', profiling Seagull Books, the Naveen Kishore-led, India-based publisher that is one of the leading publishers of literature-in-translation (especially French and German) in English. (A lot of other publishers have great lists, but as far as number-of-(important-)titles go, it's really Dalkey Archive Press and Seagull way at the head of the pack.)
       A fascinating story -- and a wonderful success story.

       Lots of Seagull titles are under review at the complete review -- I wouldn't even know where to start -- and I hope you too are familiar with much of what they've published.

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16. Benjamin Bear in Brain Storms! by Philippe Coudray

Hopefully by the publication of Benjamin Bear in Brain Storms!, you know Philippe Coudray's creatively thinking bear and his forest full of friends. Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, came out in 2011 and is now in paperback and Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! in 2013. If you have never had the pleasure of meeting Benjamin Bear on the page, quotes from these reviews create a perfect picture.

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17. What Pet Should I Get?, by Dr. Seuss | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of What Pet Should I Get?, by Dr. Seuss! Giveaway begins July 28, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends August 27, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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18. AW15 PREVIEW - paperchase : nordic nights

Our second sneak peak at a Paperchase Autumn Winter 2015 collection is 'Nordic Nights' a wintery woodland print that will tie in nicely with Christmas products as well. Featuring a Scandinavian style print inspired by the nature of Norway with Polar Bears, Moose, Foxes, and Owls. There design comes in full colour and monotone versions along with a complimentary geometric stylised grass design.

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19. Step-by-Step: How to Draw Hands


I have finally tackled the remaining teaching-drawings for the book. The publisher calls them step-by-steps and some of them are exactly that, like the one I did on using colour as a framework. There's also one on 3 stages of drawing eyes. 


However, quite a few of the so-called step-by-steps are not actually a series of stages, but sets of little graphic features, to help explain how to draw certain aspects. Since hands are always so tricky, I thought I would do some teaching-drawings, looking at how you can use the position of the knuckles to help judge whether you are getting things right or not.


It's a trick I always use. Though the knuckles are staggered, rather than in line, the shape you get when you join them up is echoed in the next set of knuckles, as well as the finger ends. This helps you get finger length right - another thing that is easy to misjudge.



I sketched three line-drawings, (actually, I drew 5: the other 2 were a bit rubbish). I tried to get really different poses. Then I placed a bit of tracing paper over each sketch and circled the knuckles in a coloured pencil. As soon as I joined them up and then drew in the finger-end line, I knew the drawings would work really well.


I scanned both drawings and tracings, then put them together in Photoshop. 


Job done.

The rest of the spread on How to Sketch Hands uses drawings from my archive of sketchbooks to talk through some other ways of thinking about the various problems, including creating montage sheets, drawing just hands, over and over for practice. This is useful for stopping you getting frustrated when people move. It's also good for making the individual sketches seem less 'precious', so you are less inclined to worry if they go a bit skew-whiff here and there:


It's a great way to pass the time on a train. Try using a couple of different coloured pencils, to stop things getting too confused. 


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20. Frisk Me by Lauren Layne Release Blast


Enter to Win a 
$50.00 Amazon eGift Card


FRISK ME
New York’s Finest #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing July 28th,2015
Forever Romance


After a photograph of Luc Moretti saving a tourist hits social media, he instantly becomes New York’s most famous and beloved cop. When a major network decides to run a special on the “American Hero,” Luc’s boss gives him no choice but to cooperate in the name of good exposure for the department. Luc doesn’t mind the celebrity status-what he does mind is the gorgeous brunette journalist who’s been assigned to follow his every move. Especially since she also happens to be the same knockout that rejected him rather publicly the week before.

Ava Sims is a woman who gets what she wants. And what she wants is to be CBC’s lead anchor-but to get there, she’ll need to nail the fluff piece on the playboy cop. Luc Moretti is everything Ava knows to stay away from: a stubborn charmer with a hero-complex. But the more Ava gets to know Luc and his oddball family, the more she realizes that beneath the swagger and the blue uniform is a complex man who makes her heart beat too fast. Soon, Ava’s doing the unthinkable, and falling for the best of New York’s finest …


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Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to publish ten books, including the bestselling Stiletto series, with several more on the way in 2015.
Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.



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21. Russian history that you must read

I rarely say this, but you have to read this book. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson is the kind of history writing that teachers dream about it. It’s factually accurate, for westerners covers a little known period of history, is passionately written and filled with riveting prose. Simply put, this is the book you have to read if you want to understand modern Russia.

Have I persuaded you yet?

I was fairly surprised that Anderson would be the one to write a book like Symphony as it is straight-up history and built around an adult protagonist (composer Dmitri Shostakovich). Anderson is a great writer, but still, for all that he has written historical fiction in the past,  this title does not give him the room to manufacture drama. He had to follow the story exactly where it took him and let it tell itself as events occurred. As a Russian story set first in the time of the last tsar and then under Lenin and Stalin, there is a lot of politics and some of the pages are far less gripping than others. But Anderson is patient and smart and so exceedingly skilled that he makes the machinations of the Soviet state in the Russian breadbasket during the 1920s read as incredibly exciting.

I don’t know how he does it, I just know that he does and you have got to read this book.

Dmitri Shostakovich was one of Russia’s great twentieth century composers and his symphony for Leningrad, written when the city was under siege from Germany during WWII, had a powerful impact on the world. (The Siege of Leningrad lasted two and half years and was the longest siege in history.) But Anderson goes far beyond the story of Shostakovich and that particular symphony; he gives readers an indepth look at Russian history from the February and October revolutions of 1917, to the rise to power of Vladimir Lenin, the later rise to power of Josef Stalin and the devastation of the dreadful policies of the 1920s and ’30s which caused the deaths of millions of Russians, the destruction of the Russian economy and almost the end of the Russian military.

It’s everything you ever wanted – and needed – to know about modern Russian history through the lens of one amazing Russian man.

The text is peppered with photos and quotes from the diaries and letters of various Russian citizens, from activists to poets, writers and Shostakovich’s fellow composers and musicians. Everyone contributes something to telling this story and they give it the sort of gravitas and power that the subject demands. Readers will walk away from Symphony not only know vastly more about Russia, but more importantly, about the Russian people themselves.

M.T. Anderson has created a modern masterpiece with Symphony for the City of the Dead. It should be read by anyone over the age of 13 who has an interest in Russia, WWII or history in general. Adults will get as much from this book as teenagers and really everyone – everyone – should read it. This is a life changing book and I can not stress enough how really and truly good it is. Bravo, Mr. Anderson, Bravo!

Crossposted from Guys Lit Wire.

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22. Draw Tip Tuesday: Water Soluable Ink Painting!

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!

Last week we made this sketch, and used this fineliner with soluble ink. Today we will need water and a brush.


   Want more videos? Subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

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23. Harry Potter Would You Rather

Harry Potter StampHarry Potter Would You Rather

EnergeticGriffin20 posted this Harry Potter Would You Rather Quiz on the Harry Potter Message Board.

Would You Rather . . . 

  1. Be a Slytherin or Gryffindor?
  2. Be a Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw?
  3. Get stuck in the Chamber of Secrets for 10 minutes or get stuck in a closed room with Dementors for 10 minutes?
  4. Be Professor Dumbledore or Professor McGonagall?
  5. Be a Quidditch player or not?
  6. Study Charms or Potions?
  7. Have a detention with Professor Snape or Professor Umbridge?
  8. Live with Harry Potter your whole life or live with Hermione your whole life?
  9. Be a professor at Hogwarts or a student at Hogwarts?

Leave your answers in the Comments and go visit the Harry Potter Message Board to join the conversation.

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24. India Vision 2020

ApJ by Monica gupta

 

India Vision 2020

अचानक कलाम साहब की खबर सुनकर ….. !!!! कलाम साहब से मैं बहुत बातो से प्रभावित थी. जिनमे से एक है उनकी अनमोल बाते… बहुत समय पहले मैने कही पढा था कि एक अच्छी पुस्तक हजार दोस्तों के बराबर होती है और एक अच्छा दोस्त पूरी की पूरी लाईब्रेरी होता है… बाद में मुझे पता चला कि ये तो कलाम साहब ने कहा है … तब से मैं उनके और भी विचार पढने लगी… कुछ विचार जो हमेशा जहन मे रहते हैं वो हैं …सपने वो नही जो नींद मे देखे जाए सपने वो हैं जो आपको सोने ही न दे… किसी को हराना बहुत आसान है पर किसी को जीतना बहुत मुश्किल … एक उन्होनें कहा था कि मां अपने बच्चे को किसी से भी नौ महीने ज्यादा जानती है क्योकि नौ महीने वो गर्भ में रहता है ऐसे न जाने कितनी अच्छी बातें हैं जो हम सभी के जहन मे सदियों तक रहेगी … आपको नम आखों से सादर नमन… (अगर आपको भी उनका कोई विचार बहुत अच्छा लगा हो तो जरुर शेयर कीजिए हम सभी के साथ .

 

Even In Death, Kalam Relied His Last Hopes on Students for Vision 2020 -The New Indian Express

The missile man might not be there anymore, but it is our duty to make his dreams live on. As a writer, his books be it ‘Wings of Fire’, ‘Ignited Minds’, or ‘India 2020’, all of them were dedicated to motivate India’s young minds. Everyone might feel that Mr Kalam has left a huge void that cannot be filled, but hypothetically Mr Kalam would want most of the young generation to fill that void. Across the nation and world, people are pouring their respects and tributes. Every young person should feel today that only hard work towards the ideal change Mr Kalam sought for 2020 would be the satisfying tribute of all.

Lesser Known Facts About Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

10 Golden Quotes by APJ Abdul Kalam That Sought to Motivate Students

‘People’s President’ Abdul Kalam No More   Read more…

आप हमेशा हमेशा हमारे जहन में रहेंगें ….

सादर नमन्

The post India Vision 2020 appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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25. Top Ten Tuesday (10): Top Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, the theme is “Top Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds” and we’re happy to be participating!     For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, Jamie explains that “book nerds” can include a variety of things – people who work at bookstores! people who are aspiring writers! – so I’m also working with this broader definition for my list today. 1. Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: One of my all-time favorite novels! As you might remember, the book opens with Jane trying to read Bewick’s History of British Birds stealthily in the windowseat and getting caught at it by her awful cousin John Reed. 2. Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: Catherine’s love for Gothic novels – particularly Ann Radcliffe’s – causes her to suspect that Northanger Abbey holds deep dark secrets at every turn.... Read more »

The post Top Ten Tuesday (10): Top Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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26. Ruff Life Mascots Max & Bella Ridiculous Hoop Challenge

Sorry guys the filming went wonky due to me laughing and Bella's antics.  Even the iPhone had a hard time trying to keep up with her!
Watch what I mean below.



 let me know what challenges you'd like to see the pair do!


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27. France wins the First European Games!

It came down to a classic and historic rivalry: the French versus the British. There were a few casualties–the French first string keeper broke his shoulder–but the “really tough, really intense” game ended on a fair Snitch snatch, leaving the French with the champion title after a 90-50 win.

Representatives from each team spoke to The Guardian, happy with the results of the tournament. All are hoping that the success of the first European Games brings Quidditch a higher profile and encourages involvement in the sport. The Guardian reports:

Dennis Jordan, captain of the French side, on Sunday said both sides played a “really tough, really intense game”. “Our main keeper was injured and broke his shoulder; he’s now in the ambulance. It was a legal tackle; both teams played aggressively but within the rules,” he said from the sidelines.

Speaking before the final, Jan Mikolajczak, one of four players from the University of Oxford, said the real-life game is surprisingly similar to the fictional version. “Other than the fact we’re not flying, it’s full contact and quite rough, just as it was in the books,” he said.

Despite the strict rules, Giulio Cioncoloni, a volunteer with organisers at the Cultural Association l’Ombrico, said the game is informal and incredibly fun. “It’s a beautiful sport because it’s one of strength. But at the end of the game, everyone hugs. It’s a great community. Quidditch is a sport for everyone,” he said.

Jordan agreed a jovial atmosphere dominated, despite injuries, with the French team celebrating alongside their British rivals. He hoped their win in Tuscany would help raise the profile of Quidditch in France: “We expanded a lot last year and we will continue next year. Winning the European games may influence people to get involved.”

After a successful European Games, all are looking forward to the bi-annual Quidditch Global Games next year. The site of the games has yet to be determined by the International Quidditch Association board. Though few new of Quidditch in the Italian country side, Italy now has 9 Quidditch teams across the country, and is hoping to continue growing. The home team (representing Italy) was knocked out of the tournament in an early defeat by the Belgians.

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28. Poking the bear

By “odd one out,” he means “least geeky,” of course. 

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29. Send Us Rainbow Book Suggestions!

Red: A Crayon's StoryThe Rainbow Book List Committee, a committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) of the American Library Association, is seeking suggestions from the field for the 2016 Rainbow Book List. Suggestions from the field will be accepted through September 30, 2015.

So what is the committee looking for? Excellent books for children birth through age 18 that reflect the LGBTQ experience for young people.

The Rainbow Book List Committee members are currently reading over 100 titles (and any that you suggest) and nominating the best of the best for inclusion on the list. The committee will meet at Midwinter to discuss all nominated titles and select those that will make the final list.

You can follow along with committee activities at the blog and see what titles have already been nominated. We would love to know about any great LGBTQ books for kids and teens that you’ve read that have been published since July 1, 2014! For more information about the Rainbow Book List Committee click here.

The post Send Us Rainbow Book Suggestions! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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30. It’s Tuesday! Write your Slice. #TWTBlog

It's Tuesday! Write. Share. Give.

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31. Picture Books for Stubborn Kids

In typical toddler fashion, my youngest daughter (aged two and a half) has developed the “NO! I don’t like it!”, and the “Don’t want it!” approach to almost everything offered, much to the delight of her parents (that’s me). If you’re a parent or teacher of children anywhere between two and five years old, and […]

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32. Laughter

Laughter is a balm to soothe
Whatever makes you ache
And those who would reject that thought
Are making a mistake.

Just spend an afternoon or eve
With friends from long ago
And reminisce until the giggles
Start to overflow.

For when you’re caught up having fun
The bad stuff slinks away,
Afraid to tamper with the joy
On obvious display.

If only we could bottle up
Those laughs for future use,
Then all the sadness lurking ‘round
Perhaps we could reduce.

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33.

We are in our sixth week of summer reading and so far Syosset kids have read 3024 books.  

Our last day is August 8th, if you haven't signed up yet you still have time to come in and receive prizes.






posted by
Josephine

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34.


It was all in my head, but now it's on paper. I believe that thoughts become things. Writing this story and it's going to be published. One day soon LOL!

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35. Creativ Magazine

I don’t often talk about magazines here for no other reason than they are not top on my list of reading material I feel compelled to discuss. Oh I read them, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know how awesome I thought the article on building a solar oven in Mother Earth News was. Still, when I got an email offering me a review copy of a new magazine called Creative, I thought sure, why not?

Creativ aims to share the stories of people who are, well, creative. But lest you think it is all about artists and writers, we are talking creative in a very broad sense. So broad that it includes the stories of people like fourteen-year-old Alyssa Carson who decided at the age of three she wanted to be an astronaut and has proven it to be not just a passing fancy. Now a Mars One Ambassador, she is determined to be one of the first humans on Mars. All of her studies are aimed at this goal. Then there are the Australians, Cedar and Stuart Anderson, who created a new and revolutionary beehive. The Flow hive allows beekeepers to harvest honey without disturbing the hive which means no bees die and the hive is left intact so the bees don’t have to waste energy rebuilding it. And then there is book sculptor Emma Taylor who creates gorgeous art from old books.

The magazine itself is beautiful to look at. Thick, glossy paper and page after page of full-color gorgeous photographs. It is a feast for the senses. My only complaint is the stories are too short, I want more! It is inspiring to see and hear about people from all around the world and the creative things they are doing with their lives. It made me want to be more creative.

Creativ has lots of online content and is trying to build a community where people can share their stories. The magazine is available at bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Chapters, through subscription, and online. Take a look if you are searching for a little inspiration. If you don’t find any I’ll be surprised.


Filed under: Books, Reviews Tagged: Creativ

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36. Retweet for a Chance to Win “A Little Chaos”

SnitchSeeker is giving away Blu-Ray copies of Alan Rickman’s new film, A Little Chaos. All one has to do is retweet a tweet from SnitchSeeker’s Twitter feed. This contest only applies to US Residents only. Please visit the original article for more details!

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 6.52.08 PM

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37. A House for a Tink

I’ve been working on some readers that have kept me pretty busy.  Mostly fairy tales which I really enjoy creating. But when work is done and I have a few spare minutes, I let my pencil wander. This is where it goes, to the land of little creatures, where fairies collect the things that go missing in the house, and whose friends are the crickets and the mice in the woods. Won’t you join me?snailshell_House_RobertaBaird_72

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38. How I Spent My Summer Vacation and Loved Every Minute of It

     On July 3, I saw my first "back-to-school" ad.  Outside it was 97 degrees.  On TV, children dressed in sweaters and boots did handsprings over the notion of new notebooks and backpacks.

     Even though school in Georgia starts ridiculously early (sometime in the first two weeks of August), I can't get serious about "back-to-school" while I am in the heart of my summer. The week of the 4th I was halfway through what I call my Young Writer's Camps. (The sponsoring organization...two different ones this year...call them something else, that I promptly forget.)

   

 Young Writer's Camps have been the best part of my summer (or year, for that matter) for nine years. While my Facebook friends are posting from Maui and Montana and Myrtle Beach, I take a twice-a-day selfie at camp,perhaps to compare the damage done after seven hours with twelve young authors. Young Writer's Camps are my idea of vacation. Seriously. Yes, the first camp week reminds me of my public school teaching days when I felt as if I had been worked over with a Louisville Slugger, standing on cement floors in hard soled shoes, after a summer of sneakers and sand. But now, as then, no matter how wasted I feel, emotionally and physically, it's a good feeling. Every day is a good day at writing camp.

    Starting out with one camp per summer in downtown Atlanta (the commute alone would kill you), I moved on to two camps with my local parks department (zero commute!) This year we not only added an Advanced Writers Camp for returnees and serious writers, but I also conducted a camp for the Historical Society of a neighboring county (hello, long commute!) Both my sponsoring groups are hoping to add additional weeks next summer.  This summer there were four sessions. Next year we are aiming for a minimum of six, maximum enrollment of twelve.

    These are creative days, where my writers can continue the dystopian novel they started last summer, write stories based on family history (some are pretty hair raising), personal essays, poetry. If it is not part of the Georgia writing curriculum, it's part of mine.

    Like most American public schools, the emphasis is on essay and report writing. I understand. Being able to write well as an adult is an important skill. But in a world where recess has vanished in favor of more "instruction time," and music and the visual arts are considered so much expensive foofaraw, the child whose talent is creating fantasy worlds or sonnets...well, do it on your own time, kid. After you finish that enormous amount of homework.

   When I first began the camps, deep in the darkest days of No Child Left Behind, I had kids who were afraid to write anything, for fear that it was wrong. Wrong spelling, punctuation, grammar, subject...they were terrified of writing. My first rule that year and forever after is this: There is no right or wrong way to write in my camps. I make sure they understand that creative writing and whatever it is they do in a classroom are two different things. The kids seem to get the difference. You can just see those tight little shoulders and pencil-gripping fingers relax as soon as they know they are free to mess up. It's my own version of Anne Lamott's giving yourself permission to write terrible first drafts.

    Once they know there are no writing rules, I tell them that they are all writers right now. This is not strictly the truth since there are always those kids who are there because their parents need childcare and we are a bargain compared to horseback riding camp or Young Gourmet camp. With one exception, in nine years of camps, I have never had a parent or student tell me they didn't enjoy the week, even if they were massively unenthusiastic about being there on day one.

   I begin by telling them they are good writers, but by the end of the week they'll be better writers. I tell them how even after my books are published, I always want to go back and fiddle with them. I am never finished with them in my head. This is a less threatening way of easing kids into being critiqued. I call it "conferencing" where we meet one-on-one to praise their strengths, and sneak in a few subtle grammar points. ("Does this story all take place in the past or in the right-now? You can fix that by making all the verbs "match.") I try to use as little "teacher talk" as possible. After all, it's summer, this is a camp. Camps are supposed to be fun.

     I disguise writing skills as "contests." Vocabulary building is "re-branded" into "Can you name an animal (or color or action verb or adjective) for every letter of the alphabet?" This particularly good when I have kids who are ESOL, or whose parents insist they speak their native language at home. We play "charades" by acting out action verbs. We make lists of words to substitute for more pedestrian ones. (This year's favorite word...undulate!)

   We talk about books we love and why, as well as books we disliked and why. I don't force anyone to "share" their work with the group, although 99% of them do. I do insist on two things on two share items every morning. One, they have to tell something unusual they have observed, This is considered "homework" and must be read from their notebooks. This is to get them in the habit of keeping a writer's notebook of story ideas.  The other is that they have to contribute to "Ms Rodman's reading list" by giving me a suggestion for my own reading. This not only lets me know what kids like (as opposed to what librarians, teachers and book reviewers like), but has broadened my reading tastes considerably. Thanks to their suggestions, I have come to enjoy dystopian worlds (!!!) any number of new-to-me series, and my newest love, graphic novels. I learned about the world of Fan Fiction through my students. At the end of the week, I feel that I have learned more from them than they have from me.

     Last Friday was the end of camp season for this year. I packed up my gigantic sticky note pad, markers, thesauri and odds and ends of writing books. I said a mental good-by to the four girls who have attended camp every year in it's current location.  The boys who wrote historical fiction about WWII and the Iraqi War. This year's edition of the Fan Fiction writer (a girl this time who was into Dr. Who). The kids whose powers of observation are almost superhuman. I load up my car, turn off the lights, and lock the door.  I'll be back next year.

    It's my vacation.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

 

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39. Listening to Rupert Grint

Looking for an audio book for your last road trip of the summer?  Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) narrates the audio books editions of British author Liz Pichon’s series of Tom Gates books.

In the first book, The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, fifth-grader Tom tells a comic tale of teacher-misunderstandings, a tormented teenage sister, concert tickets, and rock bands through a diary-style narrative.

Grint’s friendly voice and child-like persona fit the story perfectly, and listening brings scenes from the early Harry Potter films to mind, when Grint himself was about the same age as Tom Gates.  (Ever wonder what Tom would think of bogie-flavored beans?)

Grint brings not only the voice of Tom Gates to life, but also Gates’ imitations of the people he knows.  Grint differentiates between them all and gives each character a personality.  Had the audio effects been less obtrusive, Grint’s performance would have shone even more, but all of the loud sounds and noises are probably just what a fifth-grade boy would want in his audio diary.

Listen here for a sample of the audio book available from Bolinda Publishing, and thank you, Ice Cream Man, for the information.

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40. An Animation Fan Offers A Dramatic Reading of Bugs Bunny’s Life

Bugs Bunny's life explained by a true animation fan.

0 Comments on An Animation Fan Offers A Dramatic Reading of Bugs Bunny’s Life as of 7/27/2015 7:30:00 PM
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41. 15 THINGS THAT WILL KEEP ME FROM BUYING YOUR BOOK



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Now I’m not saying that doing these things are automatically wrong, but why hurt your chances of getting a book sale or scaring off potential readers? 

These are all first chapter blunders that will probably turn-off readers right away. 

1) The opener has long blocks of straight narration and it is all in italics.

Reading italics is hard on the eyes. Short sections are fine, but pages and pages are difficult to read in my opinion. If I open the “Look Inside” feature of your book on Amazon and see text in thick blocks without much white space in italics, then I’m most likely not going to buy your book. I’m going to buy someone else’s novel.

Maybe you figured since it was a flashback that the scene needs to be in italics. It doesn’t. Maybe it is a prologue, so you wanted to make that clear to the reader. Don’t put it in italics. Maybe you thought it would look cool if the font was all in italics. It doesn’t.

I’ve worked with some amazing professional editors, like the talented Rochelle French, over the years and it helped me learn and grow as a writer. Rochelle gave me this same advice once. Now I’m sharing it with you.

2) Your opener reads like a prologue.

While a first chapter should have some suspense, foreshadowing, and tension, the problem is that why should the reader care about these characters if they already know the bad thing that’s going to happen to them? Readers are just meeting your characters for the first time and they haven’t yet formed a connection with them. So they might not care if your hero will be abducted by aliens , or he is going to lose his job, or he is about to be hit by a car.

It is true that the opener should start with some tension and action, but first I would offer the reader a glimpse of the characters “normal world” before you have them run into a burning building. That way, the reader cares if they make it out alive.

Don’t cheat your readers out of solving the mystery or telling them all the bad stuff that’s going to happen to the character(s) in the opener. To me, that’s like a huge SPOILER ALERT. Why should I spend my time and money on your book if I already know that the character will die or something else terrible is going to happen?

My advice is to “hint” at all the bad coming your character’s way. BUT please don’t tell me about it. Don’t dump it out in the opener. Leave a trail of mysterious breadcrumbs for me to follow. 

3) There are no excerpts on your blog, or, website, or wattpad, or on Amazon.

If I discover a new writer, I want to read a sample of their work. Writers, please, do yourself a favor and post them EVERYWHERE. Give readers a glimpse of your awesome story and reel them in. Then make sure the purchase links are in plain sight, because if your excerpt is awesome, I don’t want to waste my time trying to figure out where to buy it. I want to start reading. Now.

Make certain your excerpt is either the opener (you don’t need to post the entire first chapter) or some super intriguing scene that will immediately grab the reader’s interest. And make it a cliffhanger. Yes, a huge, exciting, I-gotta-know-what-happens-next cliffhanger. Get them to buy the book.

4) All backstory. Nothing happens, but a long info-dump of setup aka backstory.

 The main rule of first chapter writing, is do not include backstory!

Why it is not needed…

Because I don’t know your characters. I haven’t meet them yet, so I don’t care that he/she lived on a farm and had a broken arm at age seven. I could care less if they’re an ex-cop who’s been divorced three times with five kids to support. 
All I care about is what is happening NOW. Not what happened two years ago.

In order to get readers to care about the character and his/her backstory is to get them interested in what’s actually happening in the story now. Our job as writers is to convince readers that this story is worthy of their time and money. 

One way to do that is to pretend that the reader already knows as much about these characters as you do, then indicate some important event and fascinating occurrence happened previously. 

You’ll make readers naturally curious to know how your characters ended up in this particular situation with whatever specific burden of emotional baggage they’re lugging around. 

You have an entire novel to include snippets of backstory into your character’s past. There is a time and place for backstory. The first chapter is not the time, nor the place. 

5) No “Voice” in the opener.

 Even if nothing much is really happening in your opener, if the “voice” is well-written, then I’ll keep reading. 

Just as everyone has their own characteristic way of speaking or expressing themselves, a writer’s characters should also have a distinctive “voice” that clearly comes across in the narrative.

Interesting characters with interesting “voices” can draw a reader into a story without any big event taking place. Their unique view of the world can set them apart from other books in your genre.

Besides all the other key ingredients a writer needs to have in their opener, “voice” is among the most vital. Spend some time getting to know your characters. Fill out character interviews and/or profiles to gain insight into their personalities, then let that shine through in your narrative.

6) No hint of conflict or “hook” moment within the opening scene.

 In the first chapter, I like a hint at the dilemma. I want some foreshadowing on the problems that the main character is going to have to face throughout the storyline. I want to know that there are going to be obstacles in his/her way from the get-go.

That is a major mistake that a lot of new writers make. They fall in love with their characters and coddle them. Please don’t. You can love ’em to pieces, but make their lives VERY difficult. Everybody has ups and downs. Good days and bad ones. 

Add some conflict and tension in your first chapter. Then hint at more bad things to come for this character. 

This leads into the next thing your opener needs…

7) A huge turn-off for me is a character without a goal. 

The “passive character” to me is one without any motivation of goals. These types just drift through scenes without any real connection to events or happenings. 

The “passive character” is one that does nothing to solve the mystery or stop the killer. They observe the story rather than experience it, which creates narrative distance. And a writer NEVER wants that to happen.

The easiest fix is to give your main character(s) goals throughout the narrative to try to obtain. In the first chapter, have your character either mention a goal or actually show he/she trying to achieve one. The main characters need a clear goal. But again, don't make it too easy.

For example, your character is thirsty (motivation). She/he needs a glass of water (goal), so they go into the kitchen to get a drink. But when they turn on the facet, no water comes out (conflict). Now they have a dilemma and a problem to solve. It turns out that when she/he turns on the TV that the Earth’s water supply has mysteriously vanished overnight (foreshadowing). End chapter.

The reader is intrigued now. They’ll keep reading to find out the “whys” and “hows” of this weirdness, and most importantly, how this will affect the character’s own life. 

8) First impressions really do matter. 

Ever been on a blind date, or met someone in person for the first time? Your immediate reaction to someone has to do with a lot of different factors. Your instant like or dislike of them can be judgy, but we all do it unconsciously. 

The first time I meet your characters, I need to either like them or empathize with them right away. (This also ties in closely with number 5: “voice.”)

If your character is uninteresting or blandly written, I might not keep reading. If he’s a major jerk who kicks puppies and pushes old ladies into the street, I might not keep reading. (Although, I may wonder why they’re such a douchebag.)

And avoid making him/her too perfect (Mary-Sue types) or without any real flaws. Real people have character flaws, and bad or annoying habits. Everyone has some emotional baggage. 

Try to make your character seem as “real” as possible. Give the reader a peek at their interests or hobbies or personality tics. Give them phobias or quirks from the start. Create interesting characters that will attract your potential readership.

For example, your character suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder that alienates nearly everyone with whom he interacts with on a daily basis. He even has such strange quirks that he avoids stepping on sidewalk cracks while walking through town due to a superstition of bad luck. Yet his OCD gets overlooked once he befriends a small dog. (Yeah, this was borrowed from a movie.)

Unique or "real-to-life" characters and “voice” will always grab a reader and yank them into your story-world from page one.

9) First line is weak and boring.

The first sentence matters. I don’t care what other editors or writers say. Deny it all you want, but an amazing first line is like a promise of good things to come.

For me personally, if the first sentence (and paragraph) has a great "hook," I will buy the book 9 out of 10 times. 

I always read Amazon's "Look Inside" feature to inspect the first sentence and page of any novel before I buy it. I purchase 99% of my books from Amazon, but if it doesn’t engage me within first page, then I won't buy it. 

Rewrite that first sentence like a “pitch” that will make your book the next NY Times bestseller. Make it clever. Make it emotionally-driven. Make it powerful enough that reader has no choice but to keep reading.

10) Nothing happens in the first five pages. No action.

Engaging the reader’s curiosity is the number one thing that the first chapter MUST do above all else. 

An interesting event must grasp the reader’s attention from page one. This can be an extraordinary location, a distinctive “voice,” a shocking incident, lots of interesting dialogue, or a hint of conflict. The point is to seize the reader’s attention quickly. You only have one or two pages before the reader tosses your book aside and buys the next one.

There's no need for heart-pounding action. But do make certain that the characters don’t give anything away yet. Have them doing SOMETHING. Add some action and conflict from page one.

For example, the character is about to take their driving test (interesting event). He/she is nervous because without a license (motivation), they can’t get a job delivering pizzas. They desperately need this second job to help pay for medication (goal) that their sickly child needs to live.

In the example, the character is doing something—taking a driver’s test. So it gives the reader action, along with the other necessary ingredients, like a goal and motivation, and even potential conflict if they fail this test.

11) No dialogue. Only introspection.

Huge sections of introspection or description are boring. Sure, internal-monologues give insight into characterization and your character’s thought-process, but without action and dialogue thrown into the mix, it’s a total snooze-fest. 

When I open a book and see nothing but long chunks of text without much “white space,” I already know that nothing is happening. It’s either all backstory or introspection. 

Your first chapter doesn’t have to be exciting, or even have a thrilling car chase, but have you’re characters doing something, and get them talking. Fast. 

Personally, I love dialogue. The more you have in your book, the more insight I’ll gain about your lovely characters. The more engaged I’ll become. Dialogue moves a plot forward immediately and creates lots of white space. 

While the characters are yakking, have them doing something so they’re not just “talking heads” floating around in space. Even if they’re just walking their dog while chatting with their BFF over what a slut Amy Waltburg is for stealing her boyfriend, you have an interesting opener.
Make the dialogue short and snappy. Don’t let characters ramble on or give long speeches. Have them talk about things significant to the plot, or have it reveal characterization. Leave out the small talk and “As you know…” snippets. Have the characters discuss a problem or hint at one in the coming chapters.

This will also help with any pacing issues.

12) There is no inciting incident that rocks the main character's world.

 Give the reader an enigma to unravel. The plot, the events unfolding within the first chapter, should give the reader an immediate mystery to solve, something to feel anxious about, something to flip the page. 

The “incident” doesn’t need to be earth-shattering. But include something that either hints at a disastrous event to come, or have something actually happen that upsets the character’s world.

It could be as simple as a phone ringing in the middle of the night, the character gets mugged, or he/she stubbles across a lost child and offers to help them find their mommy.

Now, you could save the “life-changing event” until chapter two or three; however, you still need something that happens to indicate that this character’s nice and quiet life is about to get turned upside down and flipped inside out.

Which brings me to my next point…



13) No unanswered questions.

 Each chapter (scene) should either create unanswered questions within the reader’s mind or have a whole new set of questions. It’s an integral human psychological need to want to find out the why in a story. Unanswered questions do that for you.

For example, your character is in the Witness Protection Program, but the writer doesn’t include “why” this character is in it within the first chapter. That automatically creates questions in the reader. (That’s a good reason to leave out the backstory, too.)

Did they witness a crime? Testify against a drug lord? Rat out their bank robbing buddies as a plea bargain? 

Or maybe drop some titillating hints at some dark and sordid past. For example, your character doesn’t want anyone to know whythey moved to this small town, or why he/she only leave the house after sundown.

Make those questions juicy. Mesmerizing. Attention-grabbing. In other words, make the reader feel like they just HAVE to know what happens next, or why the character acts a certain way, or what circumstances lead them to having all this crazy emotional baggage, or what secret they're trying so desperately to keep hidden. 

14) The first chapter is 30 pages or longer. Or way too short.

 Chapter length is a debatable among most writers. I think genre has a big impact on chapter length. Personally, I like them shorter because it feels as though the story moves at a faster pace. 

A good rule is to keep each chapter under 10 to 15 double-spaced pages. Keep your first chapter short. Keep it engaging. Make it a teaser. Don’t give any key plot points away just yet. Create those must-know unanswered questions.

You need a find a balance. Too short and the reader doesn’t have time to care about your characters enough to keep reading. Too long and it obviously needs trimming.

Start with your character doing something. Add in some spicy dialogue. Hint at some foreshadowing. Include some characterization. Make sure the scene has some conflict or tension. Have lots of answered questions. Then leave it on a page-turning cliffhanger. 

15) No mention of where or when this story takes place.

If I read your opener and it doesn’t give me any idea what year it is or the location, I won’t connect with the setting or circumstances. All scenes need time-makers.

Just a short sentence or two is all you need. 

Some genres, like science fiction and high-fantasy, needs lots of world-building to set the scene. Just try not to go overboard with the description. The best way to include the setting and location is to have your characters interact with it and incorporate a few of the five senses.

For example:
Holly pushed open the solid oak door and stepped into her childhood bedroom. It had been years since she’d been back to her hometown of Livermore. She’d missed this warm California weather since she had moved to Seattle in 2010. 

Light blue striped wallpaper with posters of rock bands covered the walls. A plush azure rug and two overstuffed armchairs flanked a dank fireplace. A queen-sized bed, draped with a sheer curtain dominated the room. The scent of lilacs drifted in the air. She moved further into the space and heaved a sigh. 

Out the single window, the melancholy song of a Blue Jay filled her ears. Holly leaned a hip against the bulky dresser. Her hand lightly trailed the dust coating its smooth surface and she wiped her fingers off on her jeans. Tears spilled from her big brown eyes. Her heart ached with guilt. This was the last place she’d seen her father, before she’d stormed out the front door twenty years ago.

***

Explanations of events are much more dramatic if your characters are directly involved and experiencing them along with the reader. Readers may skim long pages of description; however, if it is slipped in as part of the action, then it is absorbed by the reader almost without being noticed, and enhances the scene. Always try to mix description with dialogue, actions, and the reactions of your characters. Try to include the year, place, and five senses in your opener. 

***
What about an opener will turn you off as a reader?

What grabs your attention about a story right away?

What other mistakes do you feel writers make in their first chapters?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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42. Pedal Zombies on Kickstarter

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43. A Little Rain for Monday



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44. Permissions

If you quote song lyrics in your manuscript, you might want to rethink that.

http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2015/06/query-question-permission-we-dont-need.html

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45. Richard Williams Joins Twitter, Animation World Rejoices

The legendary animator responsible for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "The Thief and the Cobbler," and so much more is on social media at least.

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46. Amazon’s best selling graphic novel for today is…Fart Wars

As you may know, I keep a little feed of Amazon's best selling graphic novels in my desktop, just to see what's charting. It's usually the same seven or eight books—Klling Joke, Watchmen, The Dark Knight, Saga, Fun Home, Persepolis and so on. But this week, along with a strong week for anything by Scott Snyder about Batman, there is a new #1 book, and it comes with a whiff of the new: Fart Wars by J.B. O'Neil. O'Neil who has self published this and several other volumes in The Disgusting Adventures of Milo Snotrocket series, has found a formula so profound it's truly astonishing no one came up with it before: mix one part Star Wars parody, one part Wimpy Kid simple drawing, and 20 parts fart humor and you have something that is smelling, er, selling briskly in the Kindle format.

1 Comments on Amazon’s best selling graphic novel for today is…Fart Wars, last added: 7/27/2015
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47. Return Of The Gods & The Cross-Earths Caper Parts 1 & 2 Of The "Invasion Earth" Trilogy



The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super Heroes

Terry Hooper-Scharf
A4
Paperback, 
Black & White
331 Pages
Price: £20.00
It begins slowly with Earth’s heroes going about their daily tasks –fighting a giant robot controlled by a mad scientist’s brain , attackers both human and mystical -even alien high priests of some mysterious cult and their zombie followers and, of course, a ghost and a young genius lost in time. 
 
Pretty mundane. But there is a huge alien Mother-ship near the Moon and strange orange spheres chase some of Earth’s heroes who vanish into thin air –are they dead?
 
 Then black, impenetrable domes cover cities world-wide. 
  
Alien invasion of Earth! 
 
A war between the Dark Old Gods and the pantheons that followed! 
  
Warriors from Earth’s past having to battle each day and whether they die or not they are back the next day!
 
 And no one suspects the driving force behind the events that could cause destruction and chaos throughout the multiverse —assaulted on all fronts can Earth’s defenders succeed or will they fail...is this truly the end?

THE CROSS EARTHS CAPER

 Terry Hooper-Scharf
Paperback, 
Black & White
107 Pages 
A4 
Price: £12.00
Following the events on Neo Olympus and the Boarman invasion of Earth, many heroes and crime-fighters have withdrawn from activity. 
 
 Some are trying to recover from injuries while others are fighting the mental scars left by the events. 
 
 As heroes from other parallels who helped during the events return home, members of the Special Globe Guard are shocked at the sudden appearance of Zom of the Zodiac. 
 
Very soon, a group of heroes find a quick rescue mission turn sour as they become lost between parallel Earths and threats. Sometimes one Earth just is not enough. 
  
The complete story published in issues 7-10 of Black Tower Adventure now in...one handy dandy book!

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48. Audiobook Review: Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

From Goodreads:
The fascinating lives of the characters in Almost Famous Women have mostly been forgotten, but their stories are burning to be told. Now Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, resurrects these women, lets them live in the reader's imagination, so we can explore their difficult choices. Nearly every story in this dazzling collection is based on a woman who attained some celebrity—she raced speed boats or was a conjoined twin in show business; a reclusive painter of renown; a member of the first all-female, integrated swing band. We see Lord Byron's illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde's troubled niece, Dolly; West With the Night author Beryl Markham; Edna St. Vincent Millay's sister, Norma. These extraordinary stories travel the world, explore the past (and delve into the future), and portray fiercely independent women defined by their acts of bravery, creative impulses, and sometimes reckless decisions.
Writing
I'm usually drawn to short stories with a somewhat fantastical twist, along the lines of George Saunders or Karen Russel, but heard so many amazing things about this collection of historically inspired stories that I couldn't pass it up.  It wound up being everything the reviews said and more.  I loved the author's voice and felt like she managed to capture multiple, diverse characters and make them each original and separate from the others.  Characterization is short stories is hard, because you only have thirty or so pages to get to know the characters.  Bergman doesn't let that limitation stop her from creating rich, complex characters who leap off the page.

Entertainment Value
You'll want to read this one with Wikipedia open and a pen in hand.  The uniting idea behind this collection is that it features women who were close to fame, although not necessarily famous in their own right, or women who achieved a bit of fame, but aren't the ones we learn about in school.  Every single one of the stories was fascinating and I spent quite a bit of time after each one looking into the background to find out all I could about the story's subject.  I added several biographies to my TBR list as a result.  Even if you're not interested in the history behind the stories, I still think readers will be pleased with how well-drawn each of these stories is.  There's something to grab you in each selection and, when put together as a whole, make a beautiful tapestry that showcases both the author's talent and the experience of being a woman throughout history.  I couldn't stop listening.

Narration
No complaints here - I liked the narrator's voice and thought that, like Bergman, she did a great job of creating a unique voice for each story.  That's not to say that she overacts or employs cheesy accents - each story sounds natural and fluid, and I appreciated her changes in intonation to give a different sound to each narrator.

Overall
I highly recommend this one to any short story fans.  I'll be watching all of Bergman's future publications, as well as adding her backlist to my TBR.

Thanks to the Free Library of Philadelphia and Hoopla for providing me with an audio copy!

0 Comments on Audiobook Review: Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman as of 7/27/2015 6:34:00 PM
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49. Native Writers and Illustrators on Twitter

Do you have a Twitter account? Do you follow Native writers! Some tweet a lot, some a little. Some tweet about books, some tweet about their nations, and some tweet about a wide range of topics.

If you know of Native writers/illustrators who I haven't listed here, submit their name/Twitter ID in a comment and I'll add them to this list. These are primarily Native writers or illustrators whose work has been discussed on AICL.

Sherman Alexie
https://twitter.com/Sherman_Alexie
@Sherman_Alexie

Shonto Begay
https://twitter.com/shontobegay
@shontobegay

Joseph Bruchac
https://twitter.com/JosephBruchac
@JosephBruchac

Margaret Bruchac
https://twitter.com/MargaretBruchac
@MargaretBruchac

Nicola I. Campbell
https://twitter.com/NicolaCampbel20
@NicolaCampbel20

Lisa Charleyboy
https://twitter.com/UrbanNativeGirl
@UrbanNativeGirl

Art Coulson
https://twitter.com/UpWithTheMooses
@UpWithTheMooses

Heid Erdrich
https://twitter.com/HeidErdrich
@HeidErdrich

Julie Flett
https://twitter.com/julie_flett
@julie_flett

Joy Harjo
https://twitter.com/JoyHarjo
@JoyHarjo

Daniel Justice
https://twitter.com/justicedanielh
@justicedanielh

Marcie Rendon
https://twitter.com/MarcieRendon
@MarcieRendon

Cynthia Leitich Smith
https://twitter.com/CynLeitichSmith
@CynLeitichSmith

Arigon Starr
https://twitter.com/superindun
@superindun

Kara Stewart
https://twitter.com/artinphotgrphy
@artinphotgrphy

Drew Hayden Taylor
https://twitter.com/TheDHTaylor
@TheDHTaylor

Tim Tingle
https://twitter.com/tim_tingle
@tim_tingle

Anton Treuer
https://twitter.com/antontreuer
@antontreuer

Richard Van Camp
https://twitter.com/richardvancamp
@richardvancamp

Richard Wagamese
https://twitter.com/richardwagamese
@richardwagamese

Daniel Wilson
https://twitter.com/danielwilsonpdx
@danielwilsonpdx

Erika Wurth
https://twitter.com/etwurth
@etwurth



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50. YABC Book Haul - July 2015

Hey, YABCers!

This month we celebrate the birth of the chosen one, Harry Potter. And we celebrate the only way we know how...with a book haul!

Enjoy the awesomeness.

Happy birthday, Harry. 


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