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1. Fan Mail Wednesday #194: Writing Advice

postalletter-150x150

Here’s a letter that did not have to travel very far. However, it’s a little tough to read, but I’m sharing it anyway. So there:

Scan 4

 

I replied:

Tyler,

Wow, thanks for the letter and thanks, too, for reading so many of my books. You inspire me to write more. Here are three titles that are coming out in the near and distant future: Scary Tales: Swamp Monster (Spring, 2015), The Fall (Fall, 2015), and Dead, But Cautiously Optimistic (Spring, 2016). 

paperback-cover-six-innings-203x300I hope that by now you’ve been able to track down a copy of Bystander. Usually I describe that book as best for grades 5-up, but I’d never stand in the way of a motivated reader. I have a deep affection for Six Innings, and I’m proud that it was named an ALA Notable Book. I poured a lifetime of baseball obsession into that single book, while also writing about my own son’s struggle with a serious illness. 

I have to confess that I always feel a shiver of uneasiness when asked about writing advice. I know many authors who give it confidently and freely. In my case, despite all these books, I still feel like I’m someone who should be taking advice rather than giving it. 

But, okay, fair enough: I must know something. Right? So read, read often and read widely. Read for pleasure, yes, but also read like a writer. By that I mean, pay attention to what’s happening on the page. Be aware that there’s a real person, an author, behind those scenes on the page, making choices with every word, every sentence. If you are excited, or scared, and laughing out loud — if you feel anything at all while you read — go back and try to figure out what the writer did to cause you to feel that way. We learn best by reading other writers. 

Also, of course, you’ve got to write. And by that I mean, write anything at all — notes, poems, song lyrics, snippets of dialogue, true stories, anything at all. Purchasing your own blank journal. I love those ordinary composition notebooks you can find at CVS. It’s so important to have a place you can go with your thoughts. Remember that it’s impossible to write without deep thought. Writing is an act of concentration and focus. You’ll need to give yourself the greatest gift of all: time to think. Space to feel. It requires that you turn off the television, shut down the computer, put away the phone and games. Hey, I love all that stuff, but in order to write, you must go inside your own skull for entertainment.

At your age, I think it’s best to concentrate on short pieces. Little stories. Scenes. It’s very common for young writers to imagine a great, long, complicated story that would require a 100,00 words to tell properly. Problem is, 99% of the time those ambitious stories are never completed.

tools-belts-xxcge4-296x300I believe there’s value in finished work, and sometimes that’s a matter of adjusting your goals. Imagine that you were beginning to learn carpentry. You’d need to familiarize yourself with the tools of the trade. A hammer, some nails, a screwdriver, scraps of wood, a monkey wrench, etc. You’d begin, I’d hope, by attempting to build something relatively simple: a birdhouse, perhaps. You wouldn’t attempt a structure that was, say, a 2,000 square-foot log cabin for a family of five. Same thing with writing. Explore the tools. Play around with them. Write a scene with a heavy use of dialogue. Put together characters on a park bench, get them talking about something, anyway. 

Also: slow down. That’s one I have to keep learning in my own writing, over and over again. Don’t be in a hurry to get to the next scene, and the next, and the next. Instead, take your time with the scene you are writing. Go deeper, think harder. Find the details that are worth sharing. Decelerate. 

Anyway, Tyler. Do you see what I mean? It’s so hard for me to say anything that’s truly helpful. I wish I could give you the magic key, but I can’t. In the end, writing is all about you and the blank page. No one can really help all that much. I wish you the best of luck in your writing life. If somebody like me can do it, I’m sure that you can, too.

My best,

JP

 

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2. Bedbug Books Now Available at Facebook

Bedbug and Mouse are excited to announce that Facebook users can now find Bedbug Books via a new store at Facebook. Jumping Bedbugs, how convenient is that? The store is new, so more books will be added over time but already, Bedbug and Mouse books are there! If you are at Facebook, visit Studio Seven Store. hit the Shop tab to see all the book listings. check out the Christmas deals!

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3. Knowing Your Brand





I came across this on Pinterest one day and it struck a chord with me because it speaks to a blog post I've been wanting to write for a while.

Before we ever write a book or put ourselves out there as authors, agents and editors we're creating a brand. When we're in any public forum where we present as an author, an agent, an editor or whatever it is we are professionally, we need to think of that brand. 

What does it say about you and your brand if you show up at an appointment in jeans? What about a suit? I think most of us choose something in between. What does it say to you about an agent who shows up to an appointment in jeans or a baseball hat versus the one that wears a suit versus the one who wears a skirt and simple top? 

How we present ourselves is the first impression an agent or editor gets not just about us, but about our books. If you show up to an appointment in a baseball hat and yoga pants I'm going to wonder if you've bothered to polish your book or if you're really serious about your career. And I imagine if I showed up in workout clothes you're going to wonder where my priorities as an agent are.

What I really like about this quote is the part on trademark. It's something I've often thought about, but never put words to. I hear stories all the time about agents who are nasty or harsh or scary or snobby or sweet or funny or charming.... What about authors? Are you kind and thoughtful? What kind of trademark are you presenting to other authors, readers, agents and editors? Are you too busy to stop and chat, are you kind and present even if the conversation is boring you to tears? All of this is part of your Author Brand and all of it needs to be considered beyond just the hook, title and writing.

--jhf

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4.


I can't go a day without a little music. Music is like air to me. I need it. Hope that you are having a wonderful day? By the way, what are you listening too right now? Just wondering...

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5. [TAG] Liebster Award

[TAG] Liebster Award


Entrei na social dos blogs!
Aqui, você encontra informação sobre o trabalho autoral: direitos, contratos, técnicas, artes... Divulgue o seu material na rede junto!

   Provando que o ser humano é um ser sociável, fui indicada para responder uma tag. A tag consiste em escrever 11 fatos sobre mim, responder 11 perguntas do blog que me indicou, criar 11 perguntas para outros 11 blogs com menos de 200 seguidores - os quais eu vou taguear-, linkar de volta o blog que me tagueou e colocar meu selo do Leibster. Já perceberam que uma teia imensa de indicações e afins, né? Pois vamos lá. 
Perguntas que recebi da Ane Karoline do blog Rearteculando:


  1. O que te fez criar um blog? R: Difundir informação e buscar contatos.
  2. Qual o tema do seu blog? R: Minhas artes e dicas sobre carreira autoral e livros.
  3. Você tem o hábito de ler? Fale sobre isso. R: Sim, compulsivamente!
  4. O que você mais gosta de fazer? R: Conhecer coisas novas, artes, viajar.
  5. O que você mais faz no seu tempo online? R: Leio e estudo.
  6. O que é mais importante na vida, em sua opinião? R: Amizades, família.
  7. Indique alguma obra artística que você goste muito: uma música, uma banda, um filme, livro, espetáculo e etc. R: Livros da Diane Wynne Jones, por exemplo a série Crestomanci, ed. Geração.
  8. O que mais te irrita? R: Egoísmo da sociedade atual.
  9. O que é poesia para você? R: O que me sensibilize, transforme.
  10. Você fala algum outro idioma? Se sim, escreva uma pequena mensagem para mim nesse idioma. R: Avec plaisir, ma amie.
  11.  Diga um lugar no mundo o qual você quer conhecer e a razão. R: Patagônia (desconfio que iria querer morar por lá).


Minhas perguntas para os blogs que selecionei:

1. Já leu algum livro que te fez mudar sua vida?
2. Qual o melhor livro que já leu e por quê?
3.Qual o pior livro que já leu e por quê?
4. Se você fosse um livro, qual seria?
5. Em que mundo fictício da literatura gostaria de viver?
6. E qual seira sua profissão lá?
7. Qual o vilão mais irado da literatura?
8. Quais seus quatro autores favoritos?
9. Já escreveu um livro, qual?
10.Prefere cinema ou literatura?
11.Qual o melhor filme que já viu e por quê?

Os blogs para responder e tagearem:

  • Blogs para responder à tag

Escolhi os blogs com carinho, se curtiram, respondam. Grande beijo, nos vemos por aqui!

    0 Comments on [TAG] Liebster Award as of 11/24/2014 10:44:00 AM
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    6. If you’re writing for #NaNoWriMo (or any time) keep going!

    writing-20141124_111949

    If you’re writing a novel, you have something you want–or maybe need–to say. Something that’s important to you. Keep going! Keep writing, listening to your heart and letting the words flow from your heart to your fingertips, and out into your pen or your keyboard.

    When you’re writing a first draft (or editing a second or fifth or tenth draft), there’s often a point about mid-way or three-quarters of the way through when you start to feel exhaustion from working so hard, or you may even start doubting your work. But don’t listen to that. You have something you need to say. Something that will matter to other people. So keep writing. Keep letting the words spill out onto the page. Someday, that novel may reach other people and change their lives for the better. Someday, your words may help others know that they’re not alone, or things can get better, or they may just help someone else escape from something painful in their life for a while and gain a little good feeling.

    So keep going. Don’t stop now. You can do it!

    Love from a fellow book lover and writer.

    PS

    This was my first year taking part in #NaNoWriMo (though I’ve written and published 6 books), and I LOVED it.

    I love writing quickly. I always write first drafts of my books quickly; I think it keeps me firmly in my writing mode, where I’m deeply connected to my creativity, inner voice, and what I need to say, rather than my editor mode, where I’m looking at the language and content and picking it apart to make it stronger and better. I think first drafts are meant to be written quickly, so we stay in the hearts and minds of our characters and the writing. At least, that’s what works best for me.

    So whether you normally write quickly or not, #NaNoWriMo may be the perfect time to jump into writing flat-out fast, getting all the words out on the page before the editor in your head chimes in. The perfect time to keep the words flowing forward.

    Write what you want, what you need. Enjoy it! And if you reach your 50,000-word goal for #NaNoWriMo this year, take heart in seeing “winner” pop up after you validate your manuscript, or watching the video of other writers cheering and clapping you on. Writing can be such a solitary endeavor; I wish we always had “winner” pop up and a cheering crowd for every new book and every new draft we completed. But we can imagine our own cheerleaders, or let our friends know and celebrate with them.

    Keep writing. Enjoy the process. You can do this!

    And then take a well-deserved break. I know I am. (smiling)

    0 Comments on If you’re writing for #NaNoWriMo (or any time) keep going! as of 1/1/1900
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    7. New Beginning 1034


    To men who study war, and Col. Baron Patrick Callahan had been a student all his life, these great conflicts have a definite pattern. In the beginning, it is all hearts bursting with pride and dreams of glory. Too soon the gleaming brass buttons on crisp uniforms tarnish. Feet that marched smartly to a vibrant, tattooing, drumbeat grow weary and plod from one battle to another, scuffing up puffs of dust or sucking through mud deep enough to bury a good size mule and wagon. The days of family picnics on the hillsides as opposing armies gathered below to deal death were long over and the reality, the work, of war had set in.

    Callahan had settled into war easily. It was as if something he had waited for all his life had finally arrived, wide-eyed and faunching at the bit to be off on the grand adventure. He would have loved it more, if that were possible, if its arrival hadn't also delayed something he had waited for just as eagerly, his marriage to Lorena Dobbs McKenzie.

    His chest ached with the knowledge that they would have to move the date, losing, he was sure, the deposit on the church, so he distracted himself from the disappointment with the work at hand. 

    This seashell brocade was completely wrong for a mountain pass battle after Labor Day, camouflage or no, and he wouldn't use it, no matter what General Carter had to say about it. Seafoam, though—that was a color for an epic battle. But not in bursting hearts this time; that pattern was so last season. No, this conflict's pattern definitely would be plaid and then, if he could talk the General into a second campaign . . . nautical! He just hoped his bolts arrived in time to redo the uniforms. Of course, he and his cadets still would be up all night stitching on buttons and polishing the boots, but they always managed in time for the carnage. 

    And then, he promised himself, it was right back to designing the bridesmaids' dresses. 


    Opening: Julie Weathers.....Continuation: anonymous

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    8. Yen Press’s Abigail Blackman on Editing and Lettering, Consumers, and Challenges

    Hmm, not sure if this is a pardon my dust situation or what, but yeah, pardon the lack of articles from me recently, but work has been work, and I’ve done a terribad job of managing my time. That, and been reading Game of Thrones. Hopefully that time has past though, and I can manage my ... Read more

    0 Comments on Yen Press’s Abigail Blackman on Editing and Lettering, Consumers, and Challenges as of 11/24/2014 10:08:00 AM
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    9. New Voice: Cori McCarthy on The Color of Rain

    By Cynthia Leitich Smith
    for Cynsations

    Cori McCarthy is the first-time author of The Color of Rain (Running Press, 2013). From the promotional copy:

    If there is one thing that seventeen-year-old Rain knows and knows well, it is survival. Caring for her little brother, Walker, who is “Touched,” and losing the rest of her family to the same disease, Rain has long had to fend for herself on the bleak, dangerous streets of Earth City. 

    When she looks to the stars, Rain sees escape and the only possible cure for Walker. And when a darkly handsome and mysterious captain named Johnny offers her passage to the Edge, Rain immediately boards his spaceship. Her only price: her “willingness.”

    The Void cloaks many secrets, and Rain quickly discovers that Johnny’s ship serves as host for an underground slave trade for the Touched . . . and a prostitution ring for Johnny’s girls. 

    With hair as red as the bracelet that indicates her status on the ship, the feeling of being a marked target is not helpful in Rain’s quest to escape. Even worse, Rain is unsure if she will be able to pay the costs of love, family, hope, and self-preservation.

    In writing your story, did you ever find yourself concerned with how to best approach "edgy" behavior on the part of your characters? If so, what were your thoughts, and what did you conclude? Why do you think your decision was the right one?

    When I sat down to write what would become my debut, The Color of Rain, I knew that I was going to be stepping right off the edgy map. You see my main character, Rain, is a prostitute.

    A space prostitute to be exact.

    I suspected that I’d get frowns from parents, be banned from “clean” YA bookshelves, and that my oh-so-proud mom would not be able to hand this book around to her church friends. And yet, Rain’s story was more important to me than its obvious obstacles.

    You might ask why.

    Well, while there are a multitude of great stories about noble sacrifice and the glory of love, I felt compelled to talk about the other story—what happens when someone goes too far for love—when love leaves you with regret and shame instead of Happily Ever After feelings.

    It does happen. It happened to me. And it definitely happens to teenagers more regularly than the rest of the population. So I wrote this super edgy story for those people with the hopeful message that there is a light at the end of the tunnel no matter what—or in Rain’s case, a light at the end of the Known Universe.

    In my new book, Breaking Sky (Sourcebooks, 2015), I’ve come up against a whole new world of edgy complications.

    My new main character, Chase, is unlikeable. Capital U. Self-centered, showoff, maverick—she’s a top fighter pilot at an Air Force academy for teens who keeps her eye on breaking a cold war standoff with Asia—and not on the people in her life.

    Like Rain, Chase’s backstory harbors great disappointment, and in response to that hurt, Chase has closed herself off.

    How is this edgy? Well, Chase has a reputation for leading on romantic interests for nothing more than a quick make-out session. Nothing deeper.

    My beta readers for this story wondered where Chase’s heart-breaker status came from, and the answer to that has become as important to me as showing teen readers the flipside of love in Rain. In short, Chase’s story is about being careless with others. About isolating yourself from anyone who can hurt you—and then the long road back to caring.

    After these two books, what I’ve learned about “edgy” is that it can be a powerful force in telling the toughest of emotional stories. For Rain, I chose an edgy premise that was as impossible to swallow as the enormous feelings behind her regret, and with Chase, I created a girl who hurt others in an attempt to keep anyone from ever hurting her ever again.

    Could I have told these stories without edgy red flags like prostitution, human trafficking, swears, and “make-out sluts?”

    Maybe. But I doubt they would hit home, feel real, and echo through the reader’s deepest life turns.

    In the end, I want every reader who identifies with my story to come away feeling like they’re not alone. That may seem a little hokey, but hey, books have always been there for me.

    If I can contribute to the great emotional library in any way, I’ll die happy.

    As someone with a MFA in Writing for Children (and Young Adults), how did your education help you advance in your craft? What advice do you have for other MFA students/graduates in making the transition between school and publishing as a business?

    Vermont College of Fine Arts
    I would not be an author without the education I received at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Basically, my MFA turned my passion into a career.

    I started writing when I was thirteen, poems mostly and a few memoir-type short stories. From eighth grade on, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I was a bit overwhelmed by the naysayers. The people who believe that paying money to study fine arts is a waste.

    Luckily for me, I had parents who encouraged me to major in creative writing in undergrad. I attended Ohio University, which had an underdeveloped creative writing program and workshops that were overwhelmed by geology majors. I was depressed to be writing with people who took my major’s classes as a joke or an “easy pass.”

    Relief came via a year abroad in Dublin, Ireland where I wandered constantly and filled notebooks full of poetry. When I came back to Ohio, I finished my degree and set my sights on film school and screenwriting.

    Secretly, I still believed that I would not be able to be a writer unless I made money, and film…that’s where the money had to be, right? Wrong.

    Years later while still scribbling in notebooks and writing a fantasy story that had 200 pages of backstory—no joke—I found out about VCFA.

    With fellow YA author Amy Rose Capetta
    The program completely changed my life overnight.

    It taught me hard things, like throwing out that evil temptress of a fantasy novel, and glorious things, like how I could put myself into anything I wanted to write.

    I recently heard another author ask what an MFA is good for if you don’t want to write the Great American Novel or short stories.

    I was so appalled by that question.

    No one at VCFA told me what to write.

    No one told me how to write it.

    What my mentors and my peers in workshop did for my work was to read whatever I was writing and talk about it openly and honestly.

    They taught me how to recognize the easy shortcomings in my writing and how to take the criticism on the not-so-easy shortcomings.

    Beyond the glorious craft talk at VCFA, there were many open discussions about literature, the market, the publishing industry, the importance of networking, and the ups and downs of this business.

    This proved to be essential in launching my career.

    After I graduated, I landed my top agent, but not because she fell in love with my creative thesis—because I didn’t run away with my fingers in my ears when she asked if I had something else.

    Not even a year later, that something else sold as The Color of Rain.

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    10. Why I am the REAL Elf on the Shelf

    It's a l--o--n--g story!

    Deedy (Dorothea Jensen) actually wrote down the story in 1991 of how I was packed by accident inside a bookcase and delivered to children by Santa and then they had to figure out how to use their imaginations to get me back home. She called my story The Elf on the Shelf. Yes,  in 1991. She even formally copyrighted it in 1999. (Of course, it was actually under copyright in 1991. That's twenty three years ago!)

    Then much, much later she realized that those kids in my story were actually her grandboys, Alex and Owen. By the time my tale was ready to be published, she found out that someone else had used that title!

    So Deedy had to make up a new title for my story, Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf. 

    I really don't like it that much, as it is a little tricky to say. (Try saying it 10 times really fast and you'll see what I mean.)

    So what do we Izzies think of this other interloper so-called Elf on the Shelf?

    We have our Opinion but don't like to talk about it.

    (Those of you who have read Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf might remember that Bizzy let slip his opinion on this subject in that story.)

    Bizzy is sometimes a Bit Indiscreet. But we love him anyway.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know how my book got its name.

    And now you do.

    Much love,

    Tizzy (The Actual Original Genuine Elf on the Shelf)







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    11. Slow


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    12. Dept. of Still a Ways to Go

    [Gillian] Flynn: I would love it if I could do an event without a very well-meaning man telling me, "I don't normally read books by women." Do you get that?

    [Cheryl] Strayed: All the time. [...]

    From "Gone Girls, Found," Cara Buckley's interview with Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Cheryl Strayed (Wild), in the New York Times, Sunday, November 23, 2014.

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    13. Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure, 1996

    My first picture book was "Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure", I think it came out in 2001.
    I started working on it in 1996 when I was still in school in Germany.

    Early picture book script, 1996

    Weird, huh?
    We had a leak in the studio above my storage boxes, that's why I am going through all my old scraps and notes and artwork. Lots of fun stuff.
    Childhood photo of me working on a travel journal.

    Me as a student, 2003 or so

    0 Comments on Shark and Lobster's Amazing Undersea Adventure, 1996 as of 11/24/2014 12:32:00 PM
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    14. Thanksgiving with Benjamin Franklin

    “A Full Belly is the Mother of all Evil,” Benjamin Franklin counseled the readers of Poor Richard’s Almanack. For some mysterious reason this aphorism hasn’t had the sticking power of some of the inventor’s more famous sayings, like “he who lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” Most of us are more inclined to see a full belly as one of life’s blessings. The offending epigram, however, can’t be described as an aberration. Franklin’s writings are filled with variations on this advice: “A full Belly makes a dull brain”; “The Muse starves in a Cook’s shop”; and “Three good meals a day makes bad living.” It’s no wonder that one canny writer has taken advantage of the unquenchable American appetite for both the founding fathers and diet books to publish The Benjamin Franklin Diet, a complete guide to slimming down, eighteenth-century style.

    Franklin’s antipathy to a full belly reflected his Puritan upbringing, which stigmatized gustatory pleasures as low or impure. When he was growing up, he recalled in his Autobiography, “little or no Notice was ever taken of what related to the Victuals on the table, whether it was well or ill dressed, in or out of season, of good or bad flavour, preferable of inferior.” Franklin claimed to have thoroughly adopted this legacy of indifference to food, but there is good evidence to the contrary. He abandoned an early commitment to vegetarianism when, on board the ship that carried him away from bondage to his brother in Boston, he succumbed to the temptation to indulge in a catch of cod. As he confessed, “I had formerly been a great Lover of fish, & when this came hot out of the Frying Pan, it smeled admirably well.” Reasoning that fish ate other fish, and thus why shouldn’t he, the pragmatic Franklin “din’d upon Cod very heartily.” The famous portrait of Franklin by Joseph Siffred Duplessis, painted decades later in France, suggests that he gained no better control of his appetites as he matured. Not even a hero worshipper could call the man thin. A second chin falls heavy below his jaw line, his belly strains against the buttons of his sumptuous waistcoat, and his arms bear a resemblance to fattened sausages.

    Rachel Hope Cleves - Ben Franklin

    Not a total hypocrite, Franklin did include passages in his writing that treat the pleasures of the table more positively. Poor Richard’s advice that “Fools makes Feasts and Wise Men eat them” suggests that frugality, more than distaste, motivated Franklin’s advice be temperate. During his embassy in Paris, when Franklin sought to win France over to the American cause, he ate out six nights a week. And without a doubt he enjoyed many of the nice things he was served, such as îles flottantes and champagne.

    A proud American, Franklin also sought to introduce his French friends to some of the glories of his native cuisine. He insisted that American corn flour could make a sweeter bread than wheat alone (several of the philosophes were engaged in pursuit of a more nutritious bread recipe to improve the condition of the peasantry, who derived the majority of their calories from the staff of life). Later, after his return to Philadelphia, Franklin sent his friends shipments of Pennsylvania hams – remarkable for the sweetness of their fat, which he attributed to the pigs’ subsisting on corn.

    If you want to try Benjamin Franklin’s recipe for corn bread you can find it in the appendix to Gilbert Chinard’s wonderful 1958 essay “Benjamin Franklin on the Art of Eating.” This little pamphlet, printed by the American Philosophical Society, contains a number of recipes found among Franklin’s papers, few of which could be described as dietetic. Franklin’s recipe for roasted pig pays great attention to producing a delicious crackling. His oyster sauce is heavy on the cream. And his puff pastry, recommended for encasing his apple pudding, calls for a pound of butter. Frarnklin’s apple pudding makes a tempting proposition for a food historian on the eve of Thanksgiving, especially since, like many eighteenth-century recipes, Franklin’s terse instructions offer just enough detail to inspire certainty that the end result would be inedible by twentieth-century standards. What better reason could there be to break out the mixing bowl!

    *   *   *   *   *

    To make an apple pudding.

    Make a good puff-paste, roll it out half an inch thick, pare your apples, and core them, enough to fill the crust, and close it up, tie it in a cloth and boil it. If a small pudding, two hours: if a large one three or four hours. When it is enough turn it into your dish, cut a piece of the crust out of the top, butter and sugar it to your palate; lay on the crust again, and send it to table hot.

    *   *   *   *   *

    The sense of the unfamiliar has always been what compels me about history, it gives me the feeling of discovery and assures me that I am not just finding my own reflection in the sources. I, for example, do not bring a love of boiling to my reading of dessert recipes. Baking I expect – hours of boiling, not so much. I boil few foods, and those only briefly. I boil pasta 7 to 12 minutes, always anxious to drain the pot while the noodles are still al dente. Sometimes I boil green beans, but just for a couple minutes and often I steam them instead. I boil eggs, but I like the yolks soft so I don’t leave them in for more than six minutes. I never boil dessert pastries. But Benjamin Franklin told me to, so for the sake of historical knowledge I threw all my cooking know-how to the wind and set out to slavishly follow his orders.

    Difficulties confronted me long before I arrived at the boiling. To begin, Franklin directed that I make a puff pastry, mixing four pints, or a quarter of a peck, of flour with half a pound of butter. How much did eighteenth-century dry pints weigh? And did they weigh the same in the colonies as they did in England? Today the imperial wet pint is four ounces more than the American wet pint (20 oz vs. 16 oz). One thing is for certain, whatever the exact weight of an eighteenth-century dry pint might be, four of them is a whopping amount. I made the executive decision to weight a pint at 16 oz and cut the recipe in half so that I didn’t completely empty our flour bin. Halving the butter as well, I ended up with a very dry mix:

    image#1

    The next direction was to add cold water until a stiff dough formed. Having spent the past twenty-five years of baking trying to add as little water to my pie dough as possible to prevent it turning tough, I needed to tamp down all my better instincts to pour in the cup and a half of cold water that my dry mix required to come together.

    image#2

    The brick of paste that resulted was so hard that it had to be beat into submission to follow the next directions, which called for the dough to be rolled out, buttered, rolled up, rolled out, and buttered again, nine to ten successive times until another half pound of butter had been added.

    image#3(1)

    After an hour of buttering and rolling, I was left with a lovely, pliable, yellow dough, which I rolled out “half a thumb’s thickness” and set on a cheese cloth.

    image#4

    Franklin’s recipe calls next for chopped cored apples to be placed on the dough. No seasoning is done at this stage: no spices added to the apples, no sugar, no butter, no lemon. Just apples. How big? How many? Over how much of the dough? It doesn’t say.

    image#5

    Nor did the recipe explain how to seal the dough. I went for crimping and ended up with something that looked like a giant Cornish pasty.

    image#6

    At least until I wrapped it up in pastry and began the boiling, whence it commenced to look more like a brain. It was hard to commit willful destruction of this beautiful pasty, rather than pop the parcel into a hot oven where it might grow golden and crisp. What was the purpose of building up 10 layers of lamination only to melt out all the butter in a bubbling pot? Again, Franklin was mute.

    image#7

    image#8

    The cooking instructions said to boil the pudding from two to four hours depending on its size. Unsure of the standard of measurement, I decided on three hours. There were no further cooking directions and perhaps I should have just let it be, but worried that the pudding wasn’t getting cooked on the top, which bounced above the bubbling water, I flipped the package each hour. Perhaps if I hadn’t, the pudding would have developed more of a crust.

    For the final step, Franklin directs that the top of the pudding be removed, sugar and butter be mixed in with the apples, then the top replaced and the whole served immediately. When I cut away the muslin and lifted the soggy lid I found that the apples inside had reduced to a beautiful sauce within the boiled pastry casing. I added some chopped butter and brown sugar, then closed the pudding back up and let the flavors meld. I can’t say the result would win first prize in a pie contest, it wouldn’t even win honorable mention. But I can report that the mess tasted quite nice in a bland, comforting, soft, sort of way. Not a bad match for turkey at all.

    image#9

    Image#10

    Image#11

     

    Featured image: “The First Thanksgiving,” Jean Leone Gerome Ferris (c. 1912). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

    The post Thanksgiving with Benjamin Franklin appeared first on OUPblog.

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    15. November Quote of the Day #3

    62170f03dd4db9b81c5a5177a9e16c03

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    16. Why Am I Getting The Complaints??

    Can I make this very clear: I was NOT involved in the organisation of last Saturday's Bristol farce.  Yes, I publicised the event  but I am in no way associated with the organisers and have made it very clear that I am distancing myself from them as much as possible.

    I'm popping into town tomorrow to the Small Claims Court to sue for a refund.

    End of story.

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    17. Watching Clouds Pass By

    Such a long absence (again). I have been loving island life for the first time since getting here since we moved away from the sugar cane fields. 

    Many mornings I go to the beach, since we live so close now, and I hop onto a stand up paddle board and head out into the inlets around this little island in the middle of the Indian ocean. Last week there was a particularly calm day and as I was navigating the bay out here, a stingray jumped out of the water just in front of me. It was nothing short of thrilling being out in these gorgeous turquoise waters under the billowy tropical clouds. 

    My afternoons I work. I have a book I am writing and two that I am illustrating and I head up into my studio and close the door for a few hours and focus. 

    We have found a way to do hot yoga here now too (if you remember I was missing that quite a lot before). There is a building that was used as an office during the construction of the houses in our developement and Fred and I cleaned it up and brought in some heaters and a fan. We call it Hot Dodo Studio. 

    Right now we are having a ball over here- working hard, but for the first time, playing and relaxing. It's a good balance- I'm sure it won't last, but it is delicious right now and I am enjoying every minute of it. 

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    18. Calendar 2015



    Calendario 12 mesi

    edizione limitata di sole 50 copie
    Carta patinata, 30x24cm

    Monthly calendar, limited edition of 50 copies only
    Matte Finish paper,  11,81x 9x44 inch. Italian language.

    Price € 15,00 + spedizione (shipping)

    Shipping/Spedizione
    Italia                           raccomandata   € 3,00

    Europa                       priority mail (not registered)   € 7,oo

                                       registered mail € 9,50
                              

    for more info contact: blog.aris.blog@gmail.com

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    19. Indies First Day

    See this?

    It’s IndieBound’s list, by state, of which authors and illustrators will appear at their local indies as volunteers on Saturday, November 29, for Indies First Day. Nashville folks, I’ll be volunteering at Parnassus Books from 10 to 11, and I’ll do story time during that hour with my friend, author Jessica Young. Bring your wee ones to us!

    Sherman Alexie started Indies First Day last year, encouraging authors to work a shift in their local independent bookstore on Small Business Saturday. This year, Indies First is being spearheaded by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.

    Hope to see you there!

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    20. How to Best Use the Final Week of NaNoWriMo

    You've one final week to complete NaNoWriMo, though of course you can keep writing into December and all the way into 2015. Whatever you've written this month has moved you nearer to your goal of writing a story with a plot from beginning to end. Remember to celebrate all you have accomplished rather than moan over what you haven't. Even if you don't get to the 50,000 words, everyone who takes part is a winner.

    For now, forget everything other than the final 1/4 of your story. Imagine where you wish your protagonist to be and be doing at the Climax in the scenes or chapter before the very end. Then write to get her there and do what she needs to do to show change or transformation by preforming and acting in ways she couldn't have anywhere else in the story and using what she learned in the middle from all the obstacles and antagonists. (For plot prompts in the final 1/4 of your story and everywhere else: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing. As one writer proclaims: The PW Book of Prompts is my lighted path…)

    The end defines the beginning. More important now to write the end than to stay stuck were you currently are. Writing the end will make the revision process that much easier.

    Who is she at the end? Write that.

    Then join us December 1st on the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month blog tour (I'll post the schedule here in the upcoming days), glean revision tips, comment and enter to win an observer spot in an upcoming Office Hours for the opportunity to learn more. We're going on the tour to help spread the word about the benefits of PlotWriMo and how the video series helps you revision what you've written into a pleasing form for your readers.

    Good luck and happy plotting… er, writing…

    Today I write!
    For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

    1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
    2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
    3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
      ~~~~~~~~
    To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
     ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

    0 Comments on How to Best Use the Final Week of NaNoWriMo as of 11/24/2014 11:34:00 AM
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    21. Birthday Rules - a book review



    Quote of the day:






    I've got a lot of presents

    that I'd like to give to you.

    I'll give you all my Brussels sprouts
    and all my liver too.

    I'll give you all my gym socks
    when they really start to stink.
    I'll give you all my pens when
    they are running out of ink.

    I'll give you all my broken toys
    and empty jars of paste.
    I'll give you all my bubble gum
    that's chewed and lost its taste.

    I'll give you all the dust balls that
    I found beneath my bed.
    I'll give you all my batteries
    as soon as they are dead.

    So have a happy birthday,
    you're a special friend indeed,
    and please accept this trashcan
    full of stuff that I don't need.

    --Kenn Nesbitt

    Today's featured book:






    Title:  Birthday Rules
    Author:  Laurie Friedman
    Illustrator:  Teresa Murfin

    Let's pull back the curtain and see inside shall we?
















































    About the book:


    0 Comments on Birthday Rules - a book review as of 11/24/2014 9:24:00 AM
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    22. Getting Your Book Reviewed

    It never hurts to ask nicely if you want someone to review your book. 

    http://taralazar.com/2014/11/06/piboidmo-day-6-sudipta-bardhan-quallen/

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    23. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 11/24/14: No one remembers this old DC series, but what it says could change yor life

    § In case you missed it, that half million dollar Tezuka Kickstarter missed the mark by a huge margin. Johanna Draper Carlson has commentary. DMP publisher Hikaru Sasahara will probably have more to say about his, as they are examining their whole Kickstarter policy.

    § A misleading headline obscures the fact that a piece of Corto Maltese art sold for a record amount—a record for a piece of HUGO PRATT art. A page from “Les Ethiopiques” sold for €391,800 ($485,500), more than twice the estimate.

    a38d32d0a83d5f126d0d9bfd3482d52b Kibbles n Bits 11/24/14: No one remembers this old DC series, but what it says could change yor life

    § John Kane looks back at TWILIGHT, a “prestige” mini series that came out from DC back in 1990, written by the greatHoward Chaykin and drawn by the great Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. DC is releasing a collected edition next month, and you may just want to pick it up.

    TWILIGHT is the story of a bunch of people who all get what they want and it ends up doing none of them any favours whatsoever. The bunch of people in question are mainly rejigged DC sci-fi characters who had lain mostly fallow since the ‘50s and ‘60s. Tommy Tomorrow, Star Hawkins, Manhunter 2070, Space Cabbie, etc. Even Chaykin’s own Ironwolf appears briefly, and his ridiculous wooden space ship proves pivotal to events. (If Adam Strange seems conspicuous by his absence; Richard Bruning had first dibs there). There are plenty of new characters but the gist of the thing was that these were yesterday’s characters of tomorrow, today. Oh, you know what I mean.


    So yeah, Watchmen for Adam Strange. In all the talk last week about Morrison and Quitely’s Pax Americana, I recalled that there have been a LOT of Watchmen-type reëxaminations of the superhero. Rick Veitch’s Brat Pack, John Ridley’s The American Way, Dawryn Cooke’s The New Frontier, The Twelve by J. Michael Straczynski. NOT all of them are even negative. CALLING ALL THESES.

    § First Second editor Calista Brill remembers late copy editor Manuela Kruger.

    § Juliet Kahn interviewed Noelle Stevenson who will probably be an even bigger breakout comics star in 2015.

    I don’t think that webcomics and Kickstarter and Patreon have made print comics obsolete by any means; god, no. If anything, we just have so many more paths to succeed. We’re defining this new wave of comics for ourselves. How can you not see how exciting that is? There’s no right or wrong way to do it. That’s why I like comics! They are limitless. There are people with webcomics who are pushing the limits of what comics can be — Emily Carroll, Ava’s Demon, etc. Some comics are made to be displayed digitally and it doesn’t degrade them. And there are innovations happening in print comics too. Anyone resisting that, clinging to some kind of idea of a golden age that we’re defiling somehow… well. That’s what’s becoming obsolete. Also I think one of the big sore points that the Sturm comic inspired — and honestly, the comic itself referenced this, so I think this may have been the point that it was trying to make — is that this idea of competition isn’t actually healthy for creativity. Someone else who succeeds isn’t ‘stealing’ your success. You gotta keep your eyes on your own board and do the best you can. The more good stuff exists, the better we make the field, and the more people can succeed within it.



    § I’m not sure if I linked to this before, but Megan Byrd has a very useful The Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Comic For Review

    § Tom Spurgeon interviews Andrew Farago about his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book and Farago touches on not TMNT affected so much of late-80s-early90s comics history

    I could have spent a lot more time talking about the black-and-white publishing boom of the 1980s, but had to settle for making sure that I fit Dave Sim and Wendy and Richard Pini into the book. There was probably another full chapter to be had on the dual influences of Jack Kirby and Frank Miller on Eastman and Laird. And Tundra! Can’t forget about that. I’d have loved an entire chapter on Tundra and The Words and Pictures Museum and all of the fun stuff Kevin Eastman did during the Turtles’ biggest years. Every cartoonist I know swears that if he had millions of dollars, he’d start a publishing house and give all of his buddies all the money they needed so that they could focus on making comics without having any financial worries or editorial interference. And Kevin Eastman actually did that, and it was a wonderful, amazing, chaotic mess. A few all-time great comics came out of it, at least. Thank Kevin Eastman the next time you read From Hell or pull a copy of Understanding Comics off your bookshelf.

    § This interview reminded me that TMNT co-creator Peter Laird has a very active blog.

    htdtreasury Kibbles n Bits 11/24/14: No one remembers this old DC series, but what it says could change yor life

    § The Comics Reporter also ran one of those weekend listicles about Howard the Duck and I was reminded that the above comic is the favorite comic of 13 year old me until the universe ends.

    § Speaking of Howard the Duck, Steve Murray, whose pen name is Chip Zdarsky, get the Hometown Hero story of the weekend with “Marvel revives Howard the Duck with help of Toronto artist/”

    § Many people in my social networks were sharing this Name that Comic Book Artist quiz. I got 21/25 which, considering m profession, is pretty bad. I confess, I guessed the ones I wasn’t certain of by thinking “Who would be most likely to make that drawing error?”

    § Along similar lines, CBR is poling people on their all time favorite Wonder Woman artist. The top vote getters will Shock you! NOT REALLY.

    § And as for Wonder Woman, the new creative direction continues to be…controversial. Geek Mom Corinna Lawson writes Memo to DC: Wonder Woman Likes People. Honest And J. Caleb Mozzocco writes:

    As a comics critic, I never quite know what to do with terrible comic books when I come across them. I never go out of my way to read a comic book that I suspect will be terrible without any mitigating circumstances, and, when I do read one, I then wonder if it’s better to just not mention it anywhere at all, under the ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away school of thought, or if I should go out of my way to discuss the book and its negative qualities, so as to not let the only reviews of the book to get written by positive ones.

    § KONVENTION KORNER. Rob Kirby went to Short Run in Seattle and wrote a super chatty, comprehensive piece for Festival Season:

    Tabling for me is above all a social event – I don’t make a living through my comics so I can be a little more relaxed and less mercenary about the money thing than others (though perhaps I could stand to be a little more mercenary, but let’s not talk about that now). MariNaomi and I have been friends for several years now, having met at APE back in 2008. She’s great to table with. She brought an extra tablecloth (I hadn’t thought to bring one) and shared snacks with me. She helped me through a couple of Square mishaps: I kept swiping the card wrong before finally getting the hang of it. I hadn’t tabled since SPX last year and was a little rusty. She didn’t mind if took off to take photos and hobnob a little (like John Porcellino, Zan Christensen and other cartooning people I know, Mari doesn’t like to leave her table too much). What more can I say, she’s the best. Her new book, Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories (2D Cloud & Uncivilized Books), did brisk business all day long and yay, because it’s one of the finest books of the year and you should totally get it. And just because I’m biased doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to me on this.

    § BTW someone once complained to me about a con report here that began with getting up and getting to the train on time, and what he ate for breakfast and all that stuff. I find this kind of quotidian minutiae boring in most cases but for con reports it seems traditional! What do you think, readers?

    § Maia Kobabe has a list of Small Bay Area Comic Conventions that shows that the region isn’t entirely comics free.

    § 35,000 attended a comic in in Birmingham, UK that had nothing to do with comics, but did include stars from Red Dwarf and Breaking Bad. NEWSPAPER EDITORS: please include some teeny tiny mention of comics in your coverage of “COMIC CONS”.

    § Finally, according to my ancient obsolete RSS feed, John Jakala blogged for the first time in 10 months. Combine this with a coffee I had the other day with Matt Maxwell and the dream of the Aughts is alive in cyberspace.

    1 Comments on Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 11/24/14: No one remembers this old DC series, but what it says could change yor life, last added: 11/24/2014
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    24. Black Tower Price Changes

    I have already begun the task of re-pricing books so that they are no longer "give-aways" but I have something else to do and have to go out.  If there is a book you wanted at the old low price get it now because tomorrow it's a 1000 hrs start re-pricing until it's all done!

    http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/hoopercomicsuk

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    25. Writing Links

    20141106_122026

    Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling :: Ragan’s PR Daily

    The Love for Children :: Avi

    Ten Tips for a Perfect Author Visit :: Nerdy Book Club

    On Getting to Work :: Dani Shapiro

    Put Your Best Work Out There: Avoid These 25 Newbie Writer Mistakes :: Jody Hedlund

    Querying 101 :: Ingrid’s Notes

    The post Writing Links appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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