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1. How to Write Even When You Feel Uninspired and Down

Every writer I know, it seems, is either preparing now to write a fast draft during NaNoWriMo, has a jump-start on November by speed-writing now to finish by the end of the year or has given up.

With novels anywhere from 50,000 (slight) to over 100,000 words, writing a fast draft gets you to the end faster. Problem at that point is knowing you're not finished -- not by a long-shot.

One of the biggest shocks for novelists just starting out is the realization they may have to write more than one draft -- several even. You get the end of draft 1 euphoric, only to understand how much work is still left to be done. You want it to be over. You want your story perfect in the next rewrite. You even work through all 30 exercises and 5.5 hours of video instruction during PlotWriMo, revision your entire story, only to rewrite again. And perhaps again and again.

Begin now by accepting that the fast draft you write now, you may have to rewrite all those thousands of words again later. Then put your head down and get to writing. Finish by the end of the year.

Writing a fast draft demands consistent and powerful writing.

Consistent writing is a tough one to achieve for writers who insist they can only write when they’re inspired to write. Consistent writing means showing up  to write whether you're inspired or dull, frightened or brave, energetic or lazy. You show up and write anyway.

A consistent writing regime is helpful, especially so writing a fast draft. A tight deadline of a month facilitates fast writing -- no time for procrastination, no time to wait for inspiration. Every spare moment must be devoted to writing or pre-plotting to succeed at completing a fast draft in a month.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!

For pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

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:


0 Comments on How to Write Even When You Feel Uninspired and Down as of 10/22/2014 11:38:00 AM
2. A Ghostly Presence amongst the Fire Engines..?



On Sunday, we had another Urban Sketchers Yorkshire day out. This time we spent it in a slightly spooky building which was once Sheffield's Victorian Police and Fire Station, although these days it's the National Emergency Services Museum


Apparently it's the largest volunteer-run museum in the UK. Fancy that. I also didn't realise that it has several resident ghosts. 


I'm not surprised, to be honest: those Victorian police cells in particular really looked the part. While I was sitting sketching, I kept waiting for a ghostly tap on the shoulder, but the spirits in question are obviously not art-lovers.


The upstairs rooms of museum are stuffed with all sorts of paraphernalia, big and small, but I found myself mostly drawn to the vintage vehicles downstairs. I don't know why: I am rubbish at drawing cars. I had two cracks at the American fire engine below, but got a bit frustrated with my inability to judge the various wheel ellipses. My problem is that I don't like to do pencil prelims - I just want to go for it. I think it's the challenge of that which excites me.  Except, there are some things which are totally unforgiving of errors - tyres amongst them!


During the first couple of hours at the museum, sketchers arrived from different places in dribs and drabs, until we were about 20. The only drawback to that is that, as each person arrived, they came to say hello, so I ended up doing a lot more talking than sketching before lunch. It was very sociable though. 


I was most pleased with my last sketch of the day: the one at the top. I squeezed it in, right at the end of the afternoon. I went out into the yard and decided that was the cutest of the old fire-engines. I just finished it off in time and had to hold my sketchbook open all the way to the pub, to wait for the paint to dry off.



As usual, it was fun looking through the sketchbooks. Not everyone made it to the pub, but we still had to pull two tables together to fit us all round. Then I stood on a chair to attempt a panorama shot, to fit all the books in. Not 100% successful to coordinate, but the source of much amusement.

Gold star to Andrea Joseph, for being the only person STILL sketching:



0 Comments on A Ghostly Presence amongst the Fire Engines..? as of 1/1/1900
3. The Business of Art


I've been sharing several different lectures and discussions with the students in the Visualization Department here at Texas A&M as part of my weeklong residency here. Yesterday in Sam Woodfin's figure drawing class I covered sketching with colored pencils and ideas about color, light, and composition.


I also took them through a new talk called "The New Art Economy: Living Off Your Dreams." This illustrated lecture is about the changing business paradigms for independent content creators. We looked at the big trends in media and the effects of digital production, digital distribution, and social media, and what that means for people like me who are learning my way around the new business models as old ones become obsolete or increasingly marginalized.

One of the takeaways was this: If you want to be a self-publisher, you not only need to learn about painting and drawing, but also about writing, photography, video, animation, marketing, publicity, graphics, sales, and shipping.

It's a sobering, but also an inspiring and empowering talk with lots of statistics and practical tips. We finished with a lively discussion about the trends in popular culture media, and I learned a lot from the students.

Today I'll be visiting Felice House's painting class to do a lecture and demo about observational painting.

0 Comments on The Business of Art as of 10/22/2014 11:12:00 AM
4. Resisting Against the System: Kreyòl, Patwa & the Matrix of Maroonage




Professor Geoffrey Philp traces the origins of language suppression as a tool of colonial policy in the Caribbean and the various forms of resistance in the work of Haitian and Jamaican writers such as  Manno Charlemagne, Bob Marley, Louise Bennett, and Felix Morrisseau-Leroy.


Geoffrey Philp, author of the e-book, Bob Marley and Bradford’s iPod, has also written five collections of poetry, two children's e-books, and two short story collections. An award winning writer, Philp is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. He teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade college where he is chair of Developmental Education at the North Campus.



"Preserving Global Creole Cultures and Languages"

International Creole Month

Thursday, October 23, 2014.   
9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Room 3249.
North Campus Conference Center, 
Miami Dade College

Resisting Against The System

0 Comments on Resisting Against the System: Kreyòl, Patwa & the Matrix of Maroonage as of 10/22/2014 10:28:00 AM
5. New Beginning 1032


After my sixteenth birthday, I learned three life lessons: 1.) Buckle your seatbelt. 2.) Karma sucks. 3.) I am NOT adopted.

Don’t get me wrong: my parents did an outstanding job raising a stubborn, aggravating, whimsical little girl from teeny to teens. I had a happy life with my family, and by ‘happy’, I mean no one was trying to kill me. Especially not my boyfriends.

My Dad left my sixteenth-birthday gift parked on the street outside of my apartment, its copper sheen glistening in the sun and causing our neighbors to scrunch their noses in jealousy. My car was the best new thing in our apartment complex. My parents must have been planning this for months, because I’m not sure how they could afford it.

“I can’t believe he’s agreed,” Joe said when he saw my car parked along the street outside of the apartment complex. Joe was my nerdy next-door neighbor; he had been my best friend since middle-school. He was exceptionally smart, wore glasses, sweaters, and his eyes shined like diamonds in a tunnel, and I liked him but since we were friends I would never tell him.

"Let's go for a ride!" I said, and me and Joe jumped into the car.

Moments after I turned the ignition on, the ground shook like the world was ending. I glanced in the side mirror and saw what looked like a giant squid barreling toward us, using four of its tentacles as legs.

"Jesus," I shouted. "We've got to get out of here." But I was strapped in and in my panic, I couldn't work the catch on the seat belt. Suddenly the squid creature breathed in then blew out a blast of air that shattered the car's windows.

"What the fuck is that!" Joe shouted, totally out of character.

“I— I don’t—“ I stuttered, as a tentacle reached in and attached itself to me.

"My name is Karma!" the vile creature screeched in a harridan's voice, pulling me from the car. "I am your natural mother, and I have come to take you home."


Opening: Brittney Brown.....Continuation: Anonymous



0 Comments on New Beginning 1032 as of 10/22/2014 10:56:00 AM
6. ‘Mockingjay Part 1′ Soundtrack List Unveiled

MockingjayThe full song list for the Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack has been unveiled. Curator Lorde announced on her Tumblr that “each week up ‘til week of release you will receive a new taste” from the album.

Altogether, the Grammy Award-winning songstress selected 14 tracks. She contributed 2 tracks of her own including “Yellow Flicker Beat” and “Flicker” (a Kanye West remix). Lorde posted the lyrics for “Yellow Flicker Beat” on her blog.

Other artists being featured include The Chemical Brothers, Grace Jones, and more. Follow this link to listen to the first single. Click here to watch the new TV spot video, entitled “CHOICE,” for Mockingjay Part 1. (via Entertainment Weekly)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

7. Pick Six: The How to Create a Character Game

Writing Life Banner

by

Janice Hardy

Janice Hardy RGB 72For some writers, characters pop into being fully formed like Athena from Zeus’s forehead. For others, creating a character is a bit more laborious, filled with uncertainty where to start or what’s needed before they can start writing. Maybe the idea is more plot focused, or more about exploring an idea than a deep character journey, and those writers want to dive in and get started without hours of character development.

If creating characters don’t come easy to you (or even if they do and you just want to try something new) why not make a game out of it?

I recently wrote about the five major character personality traits, and these are great first steps to creating a character if you’re not sure where to start. They are:

  1. Openness/Intellect: Levels of curiosity and creativity, imagination and independence, how one responds to new experiences.
  2. Conscientiousness: Levels of organization and work ethic, self discipline and ambition, planning vs. spontaneity.
  3. Extraversion: Levels of sociability and enthusiasm, assertiveness and talkativeness.
  4. Agreeableness: Levels of friendliness and kindness, cooperative and trusting, how well-tempered someone is.
  5. Neuroticism/Emotional Stability: Levels of calmness and tranquility, confidence and sensitivity.

And for this activity, let’s add a #6: Desire/Need: The type of goal they’re after.

The Pick Six Game

What you’ll need: Six-sided dice or a random number generator, something to write down answers, your imagination.

The Rules (and I use the term loosely, as this is all about the fun):

  1. Choose traits for each category that fit your story. For example, for openness/intellect, you might choose “openness,” “curiosity,” and “independence.”
  2. List six options for each trait, ranging across the complete scale. For example, for openness, you might say “very open” at the top and “not open at all” at the bottom.
  3. Roll a six-sided dice or generate a number for each trait. Write that trait down. Do it for as many traits per category as you like.
  4. Adapt those traits to fit each other and your story.
  5. Create your character.

If you’re stuck on what to pick, here’s a sampling of possible options for each trait. Sometimes you’ll get things that seem to contradict each other, but treat those as opportunities to create an interesting character. The person who loves people but hates large groups has a reason for those two traits to co-exist, and that could make for some very interesting backstory and behavior.

Openness/Intellect: Levels of curiosity and creativity, imagination and independence, how one responds to new experiences.

  1. Loves new and varied experiences or Very curious or Very independent
  2. Open to new experiences in general or Fairly curious or Fairly independent
  3. Open to new experiences that are familiar or Somewhat curious or Somewhat independent
  4. Hesitant about new experiences or A little curious or Somewhat dependent
  5. Prefers not to have new experiences or Not very curious or Rather dependent
  6. Hates new experiences or Never curious or Very co-dependent

Example: I rolled a 2, 5, and 3 and got a person who is open to new experiences in general, but not very curious, who is also somewhat independent. So maybe they like to do their own thing, but if a friend drags them to try something new they’ll usually go along with it.

Conscientiousness: Levels of organization and work ethic, self discipline and ambition, planning vs. spontaneity.

  1. Control freak or Stoic or Personally driven
  2. Very organized or Very disciplined or Very ambitious
  3. Rather organized or Fairly disciplined or Has ambition
  4. Likes to plan or Spontaneous or Content with the status quo
  5. Rather unorganized or Tough to motivate or Rather lazy
  6. Very unorganized or Very undisciplined or Not ambitious

Example: I rolled a 4, 5, 6 and got a person who likes to plan, is tough to motivate, and isn’t very ambitious. So maybe they like to figure things out ahead of time and have no desire to change those plans once they’re made.

Extraversion: Levels of sociability and enthusiasm, assertiveness and talkativeness.

  1. Loves being around people or Fanatic or Overbearing
  2. Enjoys people or Intense or Decisive
  3. Comfortable with people or Eager or Confident
  4. A little shy or Calm or A little hesitant
  5. Prefers to be in small groups or Reserved or Fears confrontation
  6. Prefers to be alone or Never gets emotional or Meek

Example: I rolled a 1, 5, 5 and got a person who loves being around people, but is reserved and a little meek. So maybe they like being with people (or are scared to be alone?) but prefer to watch rather than join in.

Agreeableness: Levels of friendliness and kindness, cooperative and trusting, how well-tempered someone is.

  1. Puts others first or Team player or Trusts everyone
  2. Cares about people or Works well with others or Trusts most people
  3. Is nice to everyone or Likes to help or Trusts those they know
  4. Is polite to everyone or Does their part or Unsure of strangers
  5. A bit standoffish or Not good in groups or Suspicious
  6. Mean or Total loner or Paranoid

Example: I rolled a 3, 4, 5 and got a person who is nice to everyone, does their part to help out in groups, but is suspicious of those around them. So maybe they’ve been burned a lot in the past, and while they’re still willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, they’re expecting others to pull something or let them down and aren’t going to risk themselves.

Neuroticism/Emotional Stability: Levels of calmness and tranquility, confidence and sensitivity.

  1. Always calm under pressure or Very confident or Overly Sensitive
  2. Hard to ruffle or Believes in themselves or Empathetic
  3. Cool in most situations or Trusts their decisions or Compassionate
  4. Gets nervous when things are bad or Has occasional doubts or Self interested
  5. Overreacts or Second-guesses things or Apathetic
  6. Panics at the first sign of trouble or Can’t make a decision or Insensitive

Example: I rolled a 5, 1, 5 and got a person who overreacts, but is very sure that they’re right, and doesn’t care about what others think. So maybe this is someone who firmly believes things and can’t be talked out of them and doesn’t even want to hear what others might think about it.

Desire/Need: The type of goal they’re after.

  1. To escape something
  2. To achieve something
  3. To reach something
  4. To prevent something
  5. To find something
  6. To change something

Example: I rolled a 2 and got a person who is trying to achieve something. So maybe they want a job, or a promotion, or to become the lead wizard or captain of the next starship.

If I put this all together, I get a person who is open to new experiences in general, but not very curious, who is also somewhat independent. They like to plan, are tough to motivate, and aren’t very ambitious. They love being around people, but are reserved and a little meek. They’re nice to everyone, do their part to help out in groups, but are suspicious of those around them. They overreact, but are very sure that they’re right, and don’t care about what others think. Their goal is to achieve something.

Different people can interpret these traits in different ways, but I see someone who has a small, tight group of friends they trust and enjoy being with, and they have little desire to expand that circle or change the way things are. Once they get an idea in their head it’s hard to change their mind, and that can sometimes cause problems. Since the goal is to achieve something, maybe their problem is they need to break out of this safe environment for the first time and they don’t know how to do that. Or maybe, the group is changing and they can’t deal with that and want things to remain the same.

If I wanted to put this character into an existing novel I’d have more specific details here, but you should be able to see a character who can probably be dropped into any story and adapted to fit that story.

Naturally, add your own traits or change the levels on any of these to suit your story world or personal tastes better. You might even create a basic character template as a baseline for any new characters in the future, or to flesh out existing characters.

Try creating a character now and see what you come up with. Share in the comments!

Janice Hardy is the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, where she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The first book in her Foundations of Fiction series, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure is out now. She lives in Georgia with her husband, one yard zombie, three cats, and a very nervous freshwater eel. Find out more about writing at her site, Fiction University, or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

8. How to Make the Most of Any Writing Conference

If you’re going to invest in attending a writing conference, you’ll want to be sure to make it worth your while. And who knows better how you can do that than the people who make it all possible? Here, coordinators from 10 top events reveal their best insider tips on how to prepare, network, maximize your time and even dress to impress.

*********************************************************************************************************************************
LindaWater1-300x226This guest post is by Linda Formichelli (lindaformichelli.com), co-author of The Renegade Writer. She has been a full-time freelancer since 1997 and has written for more than 150 magazines and websites, including USA Weekend, Inc., Health, Redbook, WebMD, Cleveland Clinic Magazine, Pizza Today, Women’s Health, Family Circle, and Writer’s Digest. She’s also co-authored eight books, has done copywriting and content marketing for companies like OnStar and Pizzeria Uno, and has blogged professionally.

*********************************************************************************************************************************

1. GET IN THE RIGHT MINDSET.
“Writers make two big mistakes at conferences. The first is taking it all too seriously. Some folks are so overwhelmed with being at the conference [that] they forget to enjoy, learn and laugh. On the last day I see some [attendees] close to tears because they missed the trees for the forest. However, the other big mistake is being too laid back and too comfortable and forgetting the goal of getting published. While there are cocktail times and plenty of opportunities to mingle, publishing is a business.”

—CARRIE McCULLOUGH,
South Carolina Writers Workshop Conference
(Myrtle Beach, S.C., myscww.org/conference)

2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
“Google the writers, editors and agents [who will be featured at the conference] and [get] a good sense of what they’ve written, what kind of publications they edit and what kinds of writers they represent. At Book Passage, for example, we have a mix of newspaper, magazine and online editors, so wise students will spend time researching the different publications and websites. That way they can home in on the three or four people they want to be sure to meet and talk to, and they can come up with some questions they really want to get answered. The writers, editors and agents really appreciate it when the students they speak with are already familiar with their work.”

—DON GEORGE,
Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference
(Corte Madera, Calif., bookpassage.com/classes/twc.htm)

3. COME PREPARED.
“If you have a manuscript, bring it! You can’t sell it if it’s sitting at home on your desk. The second thing not to forget is your business card—with your photo on it. A lot of people remember faces and not names, so that’s very helpful. The third thing to bring is a notepad and pen. There are many wonderful workshops, and you’ll want to take lots of notes.”

—DONNA YOUNG,
Society of Southwestern Authors’ Wrangling With Writing
(Tucson, Ariz., ssa-az.org/conference.htm)

[Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.]

4. BE PROFESSIONAL.
“Dress should reflect each writer’s own signature style. Professional casual is universal and generally makes a good impression. When meeting editors and agents, remember your manners, and don’t rush them or forget that perhaps they need a little break.
“Finally, attend the opening cere-monies banquet. That way you may sit with other authors and speakers from around the country.”

—ELIZABETH BLAHNIK,
Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference
(St. Simons Island, Ga., scribblersretreatwritersconference.com)

5. BE REALISTIC.
“The biggest mistake writers make … [is to] have unreasonable expectations. [Don't] count on meeting your agent, signing with them and having them sell your work before the conference is over. That just doesn’t happen. And don’t set your heart on meeting/signing with just one agent or editor—you never know who you’ll meet who will like your work. If you don’t meet up with your heart’s desire, reach out and write to him or her after the conference.”

—ELIZABETH POMADA,
San Francisco Writers Conference

6. SET GOALS UP FRONT.
“When deciding on a conference to attend, research the type of conference that suits your needs and ask trusted friends for recommendations. At the conference, decide where you want to focus—for example, more time to generate work, more mentoring or increased contact with other writers. Once there, open yourself to learning.”

—JOAN HOULIHAN,
The Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference
(Colrain, Mass., colrainpoetry.com)

[Here's a great article on how to structure a killer novel ending.]

7. BE COURTEOUS.
“When approaching editors and agents, ask if they want to be solicited, and then listen to their answers. Don’t try to pitch right there—ask how they like to be approached (e-mail, text, phone) and then do exactly as they say. My pet peeve is someone who asks how they should get in touch with me, I give them my e-mail, and then they send me messages on Facebook or Twitter. Or they ask me to e-mail them! That is so not going to happen.”

—MARTHA FRANKEL,
Woodstock Writers Festival
(Woodstock, N.Y., woodstockwritersfestival.com)

8. MAKE CONNECTIONS.
“Even if you’re an introvert, push yourself to talk to everyone around you. You’ll triple what you learn, make friends and get tips you couldn’t get any other way. When you get home, send a little two- to three-line ‘so glad to have met you’ e-mail, and then stay in touch with the writers you met.

“If you have a writing specialty, and the person you’re talking with has another, midway through the conversation—not right at first, which could be construed as ‘dissing’ [someone]—ask, ‘Do you know anyone here who writes about X, as I do? Will you introduce me, or point them out?’ ”

—SALLEY SHANNON,
American Society of Journalists and Authors Writers Conference
(New York, asja.org/wc)

9. NETWORK NATURALLY.
“Avoid thinking of it as networking. You’re there to meet like-minded folks also struggling to discover what the world means and how to then communicate some form of that back to the world. Networking is a business word from the business world, and it’s essentially empty. During pitch sessions, don’t come off like a desperate freshman pawing at the most popular cheerleader. Sales don’t happen at conferences, either. It might be good to remember that.”

—CHESTON KNAPP,
Tin House Summer Writers Workshop
(Portland, Ore., tinhouse.com/workshop)

10. PERFECT YOUR PITCH.
“If the conference offers editor or agent pitch sessions, have a clean, crisp three-sentence pitch for your project: title, hook, basic premise. Practice the pitch in the mirror and on fellow writers. Do not tell the agent or editor how much money you’ll make for him or her, or compare yourself to famous, bestselling novelists. … Don’t whip out the whole manuscript, but do have a few opening pages handy just in case the agent or editor asks. Allow enough time for the agent or editor to ask you questions!”

—SHARON SHORT,
Antioch Writers’ Workshop
(Yellow Springs, Ohio, antiochwritersworkshop.com)
Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.53.57 AM
Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.

*********************************************************************************************************************************

brian-klems-2013Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

9. Kathleen Hale continued...

So yesterday I wrote a post about Kathleen Hale and I got hit pretty hard. Most of the focus seemed to be on the fact that I said Kathleen Hale was brave for writing the article. It also seems a number of people think I was defending Kathleen Hale for stalking her reviewer. Let me make one thing clear. I would never, ever, ever encourage or defend anyone who hurts another person and by hurt I mean physically, psychologically, or use any sort of scare tactics.

I also strongly encourage all writers not to react to reviews or reviewers. I often think the best thing we can do is walk away and stay silent. I do think I said that a number of times in my post.

Like many other agents I have experienced threats. I've never been physically attacked, thank goodness, but I've been frightened enough to not open the office door and frightened enough to advise reporting an email or letter to the police and frightened enough to leave a conference early.

My article yesterday was based entirely on her piece in The Guardian, an article that stated that names had been changed. For obvious reasons I assumed that meant the reviewer she was talking about. I've since learned that's not the case which does make me doubt her reasons for writing the piece. That being said, I stated very clearly in the beginning of my post that I was basing it on The Guardian exclusively. What I said was not meant as a defense of Kathleen Hale. It was an explanation of how I understand how a review can get inside an author's head. I wasn't standing behind her, but I was relating to the many authors out there who found themselves obsessed with the negativity of a review or reviews. Thankfully most never go so far as to track down their reviewer.

Someone who commented on my post had a cover photo promoting free speech. Thank goodness we live in a place where we are allowed to put ourselves out there and express our opinions and thank goodness we live in a place where people can give their opinions on our opinions. Part of that freedom should include safety. We should be allowed to safely say what we mean.

The thing about free speech, and writing, is that no matter how much we love what we do, putting ourselves out there, through our writing, as authors, as bloggers, as reviewers, is terrifying. It is terrifying to wait and see what people say. It should never be terrifying enough that we fear for ourselves or those around us.

The part of my post that seemed to get the most criticism was the part where I said Kathleen Hale was brave. Before you stop reading to comment please hear me out. She was not brave for stalking someone. My reasoning for saying that was my own interpretation that she was confessing to her misdeeds and maybe admitting her mistake. That's the problem with writing we all interpret things differently, no matter how hard the author tries to make it clear to everyone. I did not intend for people to think I was defending her actions and for that I'm definitely sorry.  I'm mostly sorry that anyone thinks that I would encourage stalking or scare tactics.

--jhf


0 Comments on Kathleen Hale continued... as of 10/22/2014 11:06:00 AM
10. Do You Mask Merry?


 
We like to masquerade in these parts.
Especially when learning our Pacific Northwest animals.
Especially when all fuzzed up about pumpkins and costumes.
I started with a few sketches, 
the kids made their own beautiful batches, 
and Voila!
Wildebeests, unite!


Need a quick costume this week?


I'm offering a few freebies for your personal or classroom use.

 



  {Please note that these images are my original art.
    They're not to be sold or passed off as anyone else's work.
    Thanks!}

To use, just drag the image to your desktop,
print on card stock,
color at will!
Crayon, colored pencils or watercolor work just fine.
We also tried gouache and acrylic gel medium, for hoots.

Birdie asked if she could change her name to Owly-Whoo.

When you finish all that lovely color,
cut out and fix for wearing! 

Our salmon puppet has a popsicle stick taped to his back.
Did you know sockeye salmon turn red when they spawn? I did not. 
The wildebeests told me. 
I guess this means they are learning something in the midst 
of my art diversions.
Yarn or ribbon is an easy tie for the masks.
Hey, anything for a party, right?
Anything for a printable, coloring, educational, masquerade party!
That's right. We mask merry around these parts.  

Happy hoots!

Books!

S is for Salmon - Hannah Viore
123 Moose! by Art Wolfe, ill. by Andrea Helman
Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray, ill. by Kenard Pak
North - The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration, by Nick Dowson, ill. by Patrick Benson
A House in the Woods by Inga Moore
Leaves  by David Ezra Stein
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, ill. by Jane Chapman
Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden, ill. by Renata Liwska
Kiss Goodnight by Amy Hest, ill. by Anita Jeram

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd








 
 


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11. Birmingham Comic Festival Announce New Guest -Keith Page


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Birmingham Comic Festival have announced Keith Page as their latest guest!
http://www.thecomicfestival.com/keith-page

In 1976 Keith Page signed on with the prestigious London-based Temple Art Agency and began illustrating for Fleetway/IPC and DC Thomson’s weekly titles as well as annuals as diverse as 2000AD and Supergran in a Britain where reading comics was a natural part of daily life for most kids.

He was to illustrate sci-fi epics for Starblazer pocket books and the aviation-adventure serial Tales of the Gold Monkey in Polystyle’s TV Comic, both wrote and drew Martello 112 for Revolver and become Dan Dare’sartist on The Eagle. In 1992 he would begin an extensive run illustrating Thunderbirds for both the comic and The Sunday Times, then in 1996 he commenced his even longer run producing material for Commando, notably the famous Ramsey's Raiders series and more recently themed books.

There are children now reading newsstand comics whose grandparents may also been brought up engrossed in Keith Page’s work between the pagesof The Beano, MASK, Wildcat, Supernaturals, Scream, Stingray the Comic, Joe 90, Football Picture Story Monthly, Bunty, The Dandy, Sonic the Comic, Mighty Max and others. And yet, since his artistic debut within the pages of the Denis Gifford produced AllySloper, there has also been something of the free spirit to Keith Page. Recent years have found him exploring these possibilities, writing and drawing the Dan Dare-related Rocket Pilot for Spaceship Away, collaborating with screenwriter Stephen Walsh on their critically popular graphic novels about the French secret agent Charlotte Corday in The Iron Moon (from Print Media), London Calling and Squadron of the Screaming Damned (from Time Bomb) that are also becoming available digitally via ROK Comics, and similarly developing The Casebook of Bryant & May into graphic form with the author of this uncanny detectives series Christopher Fowler, and their first collaboration out via PS Art Books as The Soho Devil.

For more on Keith Page visit:
www.keithpageukcomicsartist.blogspot.co.uk

12. ‘YOU’ Poem Goes Viral

Jackson “Jack” Harries, co-founder of the JacksGap blog and video project, has written a poem called “YOU.” Throughout the piece, Jack talks about being a content creator in the modern age.

Jack’s recitation was posted on the JacksGap YouTube channel earlier this month. The video embedded above has attracted more than 748,000 views and over 9,000 “likes” on Facebook—what do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

13. Oliver and Jumpy, Stories 1-3



Quote of the day:

"No matter how different we may seem as a pair, our friendship makes jus feel so alike."


Today's featured book:



Author:  Werner Stejskal
Illustrator:  Marvin Alonso
Ages:  2-6


Let's take a little peek inside shall we?









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14. Fairytales with Oliver and Jumpy, the Trailer

0 Comments on Fairytales with Oliver and Jumpy, the Trailer as of 10/22/2014 9:38:00 AM
15. The Chimera Brigade - Witness The Rise And The Fall Of The Super-Humans


During World War II, an elite band of superhumans rise to power and take control of the capital cities of Europe in this remarkable alternate history story.

Amidst the turmoil of the First World War, a new breed of superhuman is born as a result of illegal chemical weapons. While some members of this unique new class of society choose to fight against injustice, others use their extraordinary capabilities to spread terror. However, something far more powerful is lurking on the horizon, a threat that could erase them from existence for good.

Check out the brand-new trailer:



Here's some information about the book:

Inline images 1

The Chimera Brigade Book One (COL) 
STORY: Serge Lehman, Fabrice Colin
ART: Gess
COLORS: Celine Bessonneau
COVER: Max Bertolini
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
FORMAT: 48PP, HC, FC, 
VOLUMES IN SERIES: 1 (of 6)
PRICE: $9.99
ISBN: 9781782760993
COMIC STORE RELEASE DATE: October 29, 2014

WITNESS THE RISE AND THE FALL OF THE SUPER-HUMANS!

The year is 1938, and a new generation of super-powered creatures, born as a side effect of secret chemical weapons, has taken control of the capital cities of Europe…

But a new, even more powerful threat is looming, one that could yet erase them from existence and shift the balance of power.

This is how the super-humans were born... and this is how they died.

"Gorgeously detailed and atmospheric" - Paul Cornell
The Chimera Brigade Book One hits comic stores from October 29, 2014

To order via Amazon, visit:

For more information visit:

16. On the road

Packing up to leave the country, I will be away for almost two weeks holding workshops. Updates might be sporadic...

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17. Hunter

First time in a long time that I've done an airbrush illustration - It's good to be back

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18. background of minor characters

Question: How do I reveal the background of my minor character, who is my main character's best friend, in third person POV? Answer: If you mean third

19. Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic: Halloween Fun!

Pumpkin Moonshine

By Tasha Tudor

 

Recently, I went to our local costume/party shop in town to find it decked out for Halloween. The owner has even been known to create a pretty authentic looking in-house haunted house, a time or two. Pretty creepy, I must admit. Outside you will find a VERY angry looking clown with green teeth and inside you’ll see ghouls,trolls, bats and other baying-at-the-moon types. Many are sound and voice activated and echoed through the shop as I trekked up and down the aisles looking for the ghost of Halloween Past. It was nowhere to be found. Instead I found costumes of gruesome gargoyles and the like. What I was looking for was a kinder, gentler Halloween of cute witches, hobos and fairies. No dice. But wait, I DID find it in a picture book I remembered, called “Pumpkin Moonshine” by Tasha Tudor.

If you’ve not discovered this iconic picture book author OR if she has fallen off your young reader picture book radar, this is a perfect book to introduce her or reintroduce her to your youngest of readers.

It’s opening dedication is titled “A wee story for a very sweet wee person” and that’s just what it is. But just in case you’re thinking – dullsville – I say, oh nay nay! Tasha Tudor in her art and narrative has captured holidays and family life celebrated as special moments filled with traditions and sentiment. BUT, there is usually excitement afoot as there is here in “Pumpkin Moonshine.”

Did you know that “Pumpkin Moonshine” is an alternative name for a jack o’ lantern? Meet Sylvie Ann visiting her grandmother in Connecticut on Halloween. Setting out for the cornfield with her small dog Wiggy in tow, they “ puff like steam engines” up the hill on their search for the perfect pumpkin.

If you have young ones that are on a “perfect pumpkin” quest you know it is sometimes quite a quest. And quests usually are time consuming, but a labor of love. And so it is with Sylvie Ann and Wiggy. They find a pumpkin so big it must be rolled “just the way you roll big snowballs in wintertime.” Hey, I’ve done that! But I’ve never rolled it DOWN the hill where the momentum of a BIG pumpkin can let him get away from you – and so it does with Sylvie Ann!

Kids will be laughing as goats, hens and geese scatter in the wake of the runaway pumpkin moonshine that “tore into the barnyard at a truly dreadful speed”, with Wiggy and Sylvie Ann in hot pursuit. Mr. Hemmelskamp ( love the name) is the one that is upended in the path of the galloping gourd – and lands on his face!

With apologies to all, grandpa and Sylvie Ann commence lopping the top off the pumpkin, scooping it out and making “eyes and a nose and a big grinning mouth with horrid teeth.”

Pumpkin moonshine sits on the front gate post on Halloween as night falls and grandpa and Sylvie Ann hide in the bushes “to watch how terrified the passers by would be..”

For me, the best part of the book is the full cycle of nature that Tasha Tudor weaves into her tale as Sylvie Ann saves the seeds and plants them in the spring. As the seeds grow and cover the earth with vines, NEW pumpkin moonshines will fill the field to be made into future grinning jacks and pumpkin pies!

We’re selling “pumpkin moonshines” at our farm and I think I will put a sign up announcing this alternative naming of the pumpkin! It’s great to have a picture book with both great art and narrative AND a lesson in it for kids that the carved up jack o’ lanterns they shape this Halloween, have within them, the seeds for a NEW crop the following year.

Tasha Tudor has fashioned stories with great respect for families, traditions that bind them together and the renewability of nature.

Why not introduce your young ones to this sweet teller of tales named Tasha Tudor this Halloween, and her wonderful “Pumpkin Moonshine”; an essential classic for any picture book reader this time of year. Happy Halloween!

20. HAPPY #CAPSLOCKDAY (and only 10 days until #PictureBookMonth)

Happy International Caps Lock Day, everyone!

And don't forget, only ten days until Picture Book Month. I'm especially excited beause this year I'm a Picture Book Month Champion!!

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21. who needs another dead novel?

Yesterday, a day of challenges and breakthroughs, I read just two things, briefly. The first was the James Wood essay in the October 20 New Yorker, "No time for lies," about the Australian novelist, Elizabeth Harrower.

I feel the need to share the entire first paragraph. If you are skimming, please read, at least, the last line.

The Australian novelist Elizabeth Harrower, who is eighty-six and lives in Sydney, has been decidedly opaque about why she withdrew her fifth novel, "In Certain Circles" (Text), some months prior to its publication, in 1971. Her mother, to whom she was very close, had died suddenly the year before. Harrower told Susan Wyndham, who interviewed her a few months ago in the Sydney Morning Herald, that she was absolutely "frozen" by the bereavement. She also claims to remember very little about her novel—"That sounds quite interesting, but I don't think I'll read it"and adds that she has been "very good at closing doors and ending things.... What was going on in my head or my life at the time? Fortunately, whatever it was I've forgotten." Elsewhere, Harrower has cast doubt on the novel's quality: "It was well written because once you can write, you can write a good book. But there are a lot of dead novels out in the world that don't need to be written."

I don't know what these words do to you, but I am filled with melancholy as I read them. I am thinking about all the times we writers question our own work and purpose. How often we wonder if we are done in, or perhaps diluted. How greatly we fear this fate, of producing well-written dead novels. Bully for Elizabeth Harrower for being brave enough to name the fear. To care about the quality of the work she yields. To recognize that merely well written isn't good enough.

The second article I read yesterday was written by Alexandra Alter for The New York Timesan update on Anna Todd, the twenty-five-year-old erotica writer who "found inspiration in Harry Styles, the tousle-haired heartthrob from the British boy band One Direction." Todd shared her tale on Wattpad. Simon & Schuster has paid her a sweet six figures for the right to rebroadcast the Styles erotica under its Gallery imprint. The whole will be coming soon to a theater near you, thanks to Paramount Pictures.

Here is Todd, as reported by Alter, describing her process:

Then she found her calling — in the unlikely form of a baby-faced pop star. Ms. Todd started out as a reader on Wattpad in 2012, and quickly found herself spending several hours a day reading serialized fictional stories about One Direction. Last spring, she started writing her own story. “It took over my life,” she said.

With her husband’s support, Ms. Todd quit her job working at a makeup store counter to write full time. She updated “After” with a new chapter every day to meet readers’ demands and tapped out much of the book on her cellphone. She wrote for five hours a day and spent three hours trading messages with readers on Wattpad, Twitter and Instagram and drew on those comments to help her shape the story.

“The only way I know how to write is socially and getting immediate feedback on my phone,” she said.
One established, well-respected novelist pondering whether a book is alive enough, choosing to live quietly, without fanfare. A debut novelist tapping out a book on a phone based on a band, building a story according to Wattpad comments.

The bookends of my yesterday.

The ironies of publishing.

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22. Pure Joy

I got to be party to pure, absolute joy this weekend. I have seen such displays on television after a big win in sports or gameshows. This time, it was my little girl who celebrated. After so many losses in the past six months, it was a much needed win.

As a parent, one of the worst things about cancer is being totally helpless. We are forced to sit and watch as one thing after another is taken away from our little girl. Ballet, plays, school, vacations, little things and big things are plucked away as she lays in bed.

Wonderful organizations are out there to give back to these kids. Groups such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation come beside them to give them something to look forward to during their treatment. A very introspective child, Kylie debated long and hard over her wish, finally deciding she wanted to see Aladdin on Broadway.

A few weeks ago, Kylie was asked to be the honored child at Make-a-Wish Georgia’s annual fund-raising Wish Gala. The chairperson of the event took her on a shopping spree for a gown. This day of shopping was unlike any that my girls have been on – especially Kylie. As a fourth child, hand-me-downs are the rule of thumb. If it isn’t obscenely high or dragging the ground, it fits.

Not this time. She was treated like a princess. After a six month hiatus, I saw her old friend, “excitement” start to creep back into her life.

The big night came. We all got dressed up for the Gala.

gala

 

She knew she was going to sing with her sister. She knew I was going to speak. She thought of herself as the entertainment and the face of wish-children for the evening. What she didn’t know was that Make-a-Wish had planned a big surprise for her. They had a video from her favorite Broadway performers who granted her wish to go to see Aladdin. Here is her reaction:

 

 

Priceless.  Pure Joy.

After so many months of seeing her disappointed, I can’t look at that video without tears.

You might be wondering if I embarrassed myself and my family in front of the trendier set. I believe the answer is no. With a stern admonition from the start, I spent the evening minding everything I did and said carefully. I paused three seconds before any word escaped my lips. I didn’t spill or break anything. My online tux-buying escapade was made unnecessary by a friend exactly my size who owns a tuxedo. I did not step on anyone’s dress or trip on my way to the stage. I didn’t try to fit in by discussing the beach chalet I own in Vermont.

It was a lovely evening. Kylie was the star…. And she deserves it.

 


Filed under: Dad stuff

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23. Classroom Connections: THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY by Tracy Holczer

age range: middle grade (10 and up)
genre: contemporary fiction
study guide
Tracy Holczer’s website

“A lovely and captivating debut . . . Holczer writes with depth, heart, and a poetic lilt . . . nuanced characters engage from beginning to end.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Holczer expertly crafts the characters and dialogue to create a story readers will identify with, and thoroughly enjoy… More than simply a book about grief and the death of a parent, Grace’s story is about the search for identity. An essential purchase for middle-grade collections.” —School Library Journal, starred review

Please tell us about your book.

The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a story about love and loss and what it means to be a family. It takes place after the sudden death of twelve-year-old Grace’s mother. Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she’s never met in a small town she’s never heard of. A town Mama left years before—with Grace in her belly and a bus ticket in her pocket—and never looked back. It doesn’t take long before Grace desperately wants to leave, too.

Until she finds the first crane.

A mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on, takes Grace on a journey to find home. And it might just be closer than she thinks.

What inspired you to write this story?

I read a blog post recently where it talked about artists being “fundamentally inconsolable.”

This knocked my socks off for about two days while I thought about the reasons I sit in my chair to write. While “fundamentally inconsolable” isn’t the way I would talk about my life—I’m rather happy, actually—I do find that in my artist’s heart, this is very true. I feel compelled to write about themes of love and loss and belonging. These are deep rooted and wind in and out of my earliest memories, so when I sat down to write about Grace, it seemed natural to draw upon these themes that have special meaning to me.

Could you share with readers your writing process?

While I’m writing, my brain resembles something of a Jackson Pollack painting. Actually, even when I’m not writing, my brain tends to look like that. Ha! So, mostly, the writing process consists of me trying to figure out the order of things. As an instinctual writer, outlines don’t particularly work for me, but with my second book, I’m finding Blake Snyder’s beat sheet to be very helpful.

My books always start with a character and a situation. Family comes next and how that character interacts with the world. Once I see whatever it is that particular character yearns for, in their most secret heart, then the story begins to unfold. So the first few months of a book has me chasing down dead end roads and backtracking, and chasing down more dead end roads. It’s a little crazy making, but it’s what I’ve got. I am completely lacking a left brain, it seems.

What are some special challenges associated with writing contemporary middle grade?

Plot is so very tough for me to wrap my mind around. Especially in a contemporary story where the character isn’t questing for anything on the outside, like winning a competition or landing the lead in the school play. I mean, how to you write about yearning for a ten and up audience and keep them engaged? So, what I do is read writers who have mastered this. Kate DiCamillo. Linda Urban. Sharon Creech. Then I pray that things rub off.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

There is poetry from Robert Frost and from the main character, brief clips from different poems that felt very true to the themes of the story. I liked the idea of using clips since they can be easier to grasp and might encourage young writers to start small, as Grace does. The poetry also lends itself to the bigger idea that great sadness is always healed little by little, clip by clip.

The book touches on Sadako Sasaki and her thousand paper cranes, how we all have to find our own ways to heal. Magical thinking is part of that and children are so very good at it.

It would also tie in well with abstract art.

The post Classroom Connections: THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY by Tracy Holczer appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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24. Atlantia by Ally Condie Giveaway

Add to Goodreads

About the Book: Rio lives Below in Atlantia. Since the Divide, Below in Atlantia is the safest place to be. The intricate water system of tunnels and habitats makes a safe environment for the surviving humans. But Rio longs to go Above.

After the death of their mother, Rio promises her twin sister Bay she will stay Below and they can be together. But when Bay unexpectedly chooses to leave for Above, Rio is left to figure out just why Bay left. With a dangerous mentor in her aunt, Rio tries to uncover what happened to her mother and tries to formulate a plan to escape through the complex system of Atlantia to Above.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: It's hard to describe Atlantia. It's a little bit dystopian,  an underwater world setting, a story about sirens, and a little bit of mystery. It's a book that has a lot going on!

The main part of the story focuses on Rio, who is trying to find a way out of Atlantia and escape to Above where she longs to be. Things are unveiled slowly throughout about Rio's gift as a siren and as to how and why the Divide occurred and how Atlantia was formed. If you're a reader who wants all the information up front, you're going to have to be patient because things are uncovered bit by bit. Hints are dropped throughout and things mentioned and then layers are added to the story to slowly answer the questions Rio and the reader have.

Rio is a siren, as is her aunt and sirens are one of the miracles of Atlantia. I really liked the siren lore and aspects of the novel and it was unique without feeling like a paranormal. I think even readers who typically shy away from novels with magical creatures would find these sirens to be engaging and very human.

The plot is interesting and the story is engaging, but it does have a bit of a slower pace, which might surprise some readers, especially fans of Matched. The writing is rich and detailed though and Atlantia is an interesting world to uncover.

The great thing about Atlantia is that it's a stand alone novel-yay! Don't worry about having to commit to a series-it's all right here in one book.

Would you like to win a copy of Atlantia? One lucky reader will receive a signed copy thanks to Penguin Books for Young Readers! Leave a comment below to enter.

-One entry per person
-Contest ends 10/28
-US Address only Please
-Age 13+

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25. Recap: Horn Book’s Mind the Gaps Colloquium at Simmons College

On October 11, 2014, I attended a colloquium called Mind the Gaps, hosted by The Horn Book at Simmons College in Boston. There was an all-star line up consisting of Peter Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild), Gene Luen Yang (Boxers and Saints), Andrew Smith (Grasshopper Jungle), and Steve Sheinkin (The Port Chicago 50), to name a few. Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, played a big part in pulling all these folks together for a day.

One of the highlights was the keynote by author/librarian Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (No Crystal Stair). Here’s a snippet from her speech:

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Keynote speaker, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Photo credit: Shara Hardeson

“We are here at Simmons trying to solve this problem while one of the biggest stories in the news is that Apple released a new iPhone. Yet ALA struggles to get a one-minute spot on one network to announce the nation’s most prestigious children’s book awards. Is this our world now? To quote one of my favorite library patrons, ‘Have we dumbed down society so much that what is truly significant is not considered important?’ This conversation is significant. So how do we make it important?”

I participated in was called Publishing for the Gaps. The other panelists were Arthur Levine, publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books at Scholastic but more famously known for bringing Harry Potter to the United States, and Ginee Seo, children’s book director of Chronicle Books. The moderator was Roger Sutton. We covered a lot of ground, from the acquisition process to responding to Roger’s charge that publishers often put out “derivative crap” (Roger’s words, not mine) when it comes to blatantly duplicating what works. This statement was met with Arthur’s vehement defense that he sorely doubted that publishing executives would order their editors to make “more derivative crap!”

While I have been on many panels over the years, what was nice about this one was that the audience of 150 was predominately white. Non-diverse audiences like this usually benefit from hearing about the diversity problem, since some may be hearing about it for the first time. Publishing for the Gaps for me is about publishing the stories about people who are left out, which are most often people of color. I discussed LEE & LOW’s efforts to offer clarity and perspective, to help define the scope of why diversity is met with obstacles across most media channels, and how this remains a society-wide problem.

Arthur Levine, Jason Low

(L-R) Arthur Levine, Jason Low. Photo credit: Shara Hardeson

From the editorial side, the lack of representation can be greatly improved by decision makers who feel a personal stake in publishing diverse books. Ginee, as one of the few Asian American women at an executive level, can and does make a difference. Arthur Levine remarked that it was a part of who he is (as an openly gay and Jewish man) to publish inclusively.

The panel was recorded and is an hour. Note: Since the video is stored on Simmons College’s Google drive you’ll have to log in to view it. I also apologize in advance for the sound quality.

When the colloquium was over, I asked one of the moderators, Nina Lindsay, how she thought the day went. She said, “I was pleased with the colloquium, but feel like we just got the conversation started, then everyone went home. I’m hoping the momentum continues to build on this, and that we don’t all suddenly assume we’re enlightened and part ways.”

Recap of Publishers Weekly Diversity Panel, October 16, 2014


Filed under: Activities and Events, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Fairs/Conventions, recap post Tagged: diversity, multicultural books, Race issues

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26. App of the Week: 2048

2048
Title: 2048
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

2048 may be 2 to the eleventh power, but it’s also the name of a game I have noticed a lot of people playing lately. It’s based on a paid game, Threes!, which has won numerous game design awards, but the story behind 2048 involves a teen game developer, Gabriele Cirulli who tackled the design as a weekend project then released the game as open-source so that anyone can use the code behind it to build their own versions. You can play through a browser as well.

screen568x568 (1)

This game really doesn’t support STEM — the applicability of math to success is minimal. Instead, you combine the same numbers to perform the additive operation. But the real challenge is in thinking ahead and positioning your number tiles. Moving one tiles moves ALL the tiles, and the number of moves available to you are finite.

screen568x568

It’s easy to see how 2048 builds adopts the gaming strategies in Threes!. There are many, many knock-off versions of these games around, and much digital ink has been spilled from both amateur and professional quarters discussing strategies. There are ads in the free version, too. But for free, 2048 is an easy way to give these sorts of games a go. As Wired categorized them, these are games that are “Hard Enough to Be Played Forever.”

Have a suggestion for an App of the Week? Let us know. And check out more YALSA Apps of the Week in our archive.

27. I Love Sefton High School

Sefton High in SydneyA community school – a selective school – a school that embraces reading – LOVE IT and LOVE the kids.

Kids from everywhere – they understand ‘Elephants Have Wings’ – where we’re all different but part of the same humanity.

Thankyou for the beautiful email I received from a student after my talks at Sefton:-

It’s amazing to have a compassionate author coming into Sefton, and talking about the hard journey of a writer, making us understand what it is to be a writer, that being a writer doesn’t mean being famous, being rich, e.t.c.

Butterflies by Susanne Gervay,burns,The Children's Hospital Westmead,World Burn Congress New York,IBBY, international youth literature on disabilityThat's Why I Wrote This Song by Susanne Gervay, 'Psycho Dad by Tory Gervay, I Wanna Be Found by Tory Gervay,, talking at Sunning Hill Education in the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre (JJJC).I also would like to say, even though you probably have heard this a million times, your books, especially Butterflies (my favourite) and That’s Why I Wrote this Song (2nd favourite), have touched my heart, and inspired me.

It taught me to be empathetic, looking at different sides of a challenge, and also to trust and give second chances.

It was beautifully written, and I admire the way you plunge into you writing with commitment and passion, and being the character, making the story authentic. I understand it is hard to being a published author, which is why I love and admire you so much, and you are quite easy to talk to, like a friend.

Here’s a question from me: If you are friends with an author’s book, are you friends with the author?

My answer: YOU ARE MY FRIEND!

The post I Love Sefton High School appeared first on Susanne Gervay's Blog.

28. An interview with Deborah Kalb


Hello Everyone! Lots going on here and there. I won the Jane Addams Peace Awardand went to NYC to receive the beautiful award. Debbie Levy and I received the award for our book, "We Shall Over Come"published by Disney -Hyperion and Jump At The Sun Press. We had an awesome beautiful day. I also got the pleasure and joy of seeing Ludwigs Bemelmens's Madeline and that was awesome! It's on it's way to Eric Carle Museum. If you are in the area please check it out! It was beautiful.

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29. work, work, work.


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30. Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 285

For today’s prompt, write a foundation poem. This could be a poem that reinforces a solid foundation of morals and high ideals. Or it could be about a foundation in the organizational sense (Arthritis Foundation, CDC Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Or heck, write a poem about pouring a concrete foundation.

*****

Write a poem for a chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest is offering a contest strictly for poets with a top prize of $1,000, publication in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market. There are cash prizes for Second ($250) and Third ($100) Prizes, as well as prizes for the Top 25 poems.

The deadline is October 31.

Click here to learn more.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Foundation Poem:

“Fred”

Fred was the first name of my fictional
older brother who when put in the same

unique situations as I was could
never seem to avoid ultimately

dying. Knives killed Fred, so did plastic bags
and even the toilet when it was flushed

too often and now that I have children
it appears Fred has been resurrected

only to come to the same grisly ends
never once learning the lessons we did.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53).

He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He has found that a good acrostic sometimes can be the perfect cure for a case of writer’s block.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic goodies here:

31. Query Question: parting out the novel

I've written an upmarket manuscript in four parts (I'd say general fiction, with elements of family saga and historical fiction). I've been getting occasional complimentary feedback from queries . . . but not reaching my goal in the end.

Parts 3 and 4 of the book introduce a story-line involving a 13 year old boy whose mother left him and his father, when the boy was five. It's been suggested to me that that part might make a good middle-grade novel on its own. And it might.

But here's the main question [takes me a while, but I always get to it eventually]: if I succeeded in turning that part of the book into a new middle grade manuscript, and reached the goal of publication, would that preclude ever publishing the original book for adults, which contains that story-line within it?


The adult novel would fall apart completely if I tried to write it without the boy's story within it, so that's not an option.

Neither is going back to a career as a social worker. Just sayin' . . . 


When you license your work for publication to a publisher you grant them the EXCLUSIVE right to publish in this territory and those languages for the duration of the copyright.

There are further paragraphs that set out the terms under which the agreement can be terminated (out of print clauses generally) but under no circumstances would a publisher agree to remove the term exclusive from the license. It doesn't make sense for them to do so.

So, if you license Part 3 as a middle grade novel, you are contractually prohibited from offering it for sale as part of a larger book in the territories and languages covered in the contract.

[ I'm a bit puzzled as to anyone thinking that that middle part of an adult book described as a family saga or historical fiction would be suitable for middle grade.  Middle grade isn't just about age. It's got very particular characteristics of language and story as well.

If I came up on a middle grade novel in the middle of an adult novel I'd be unhappily surprised and start wondering about printing errors.

Here's the best example I can think of: The Thorn Birds (also historical fiction, also a family saga) starts with Meggie as a child. That part of the book where she treks off to school is absolutely NOT designed for grade school readers even though Meggie is about six years old.

Take a look at those first few pages and you'll see.]


And don't confuse this with the right to publish excerpts or first serial rights.  Those are also addressed in your publishing contract and generally have a word limit. Excerpts are limited to 7500-10000 words, and are generally meant for publicity and marketing purposes only.

First serial is an excerpt or a chapter or two maybe, that is published before the book is. Think of excerpts from important books that appear in Time or Newsweek before the book hits the shelves. That's first serial rights.

Publishing a third of the book as a separate book? Not ok, unless you're intent on spending your hard earned money the old fashioned way: retaining legal counsel.


Any questions?




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32. Morning Person


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33. The Body Electric: Review

Raise your hands if you enjoy any of the following: Conspiracy theories! Fighting the man! Technology in the future! Androids! What it means to be a human! …or embodied! …or an individual subject! Playing “catch that allusion” re: sci-fi as a genre! Because The Body Electric thinks about all of these things, and if these are things you are also interested in thinking about, you’re in for a good time, I promise. While I wasn’t totally in love with everything in this book (and I’ll get to that), the book does a lot of things right: it entertains many interesting questions, features solid world-building, and is written beautifully. And those aspects were enough to make my readerly experience a positive one. Here’s the premise: our heroine, Ella Shepherd, lives in postwar Malta in the new city of New Venice, the site of a new global government. Shortly after Ella discovers that she... Read more »

The post The Body Electric: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

34. We're having a party to celebrate YOU! Tell us why you write and win agent critiques, workshop certificates, and more!

The tables are set and ready, and all we're waiting on is YOU!

via Kay Gaensler
Our Compulsion for Writing contest ends today! It's all about supporting writers who need a little help to let them keep going, to let them grow, or to let them cross that last hurdle to success.



Some of the prizes won't be revealed until the event, but many are already posted on the Facebook Event page. Here are a few to get you started:
  • A 10-page agent critique from my agent, Kent D. Wolf, at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin.
  • A query letter and 10-page critique from Erin Cashman's agent, Amaryah Orenstein.
  • A 10-page agent critique from Lisa Gail Green's agent, Melissa Nasson of Rubin Pfeffer Content.
  • A 10-page editor critique from Lorin Oberweger of Free Expressions Seminars and Literary Services 
  • A $100 gift certificate toward the Free Expressions Seminars workshop of your choice
  • A three-chapter critique from Erin Cashman
  • A comfort gift basket of chocolate, tea, gourmet treats, a notepad, gift card, and more 
  • A support from miserable writers basket of CHOCOLATE, a B&N gift card, journal, writing utensils, an iTunes gift card, and a secret uber cool bag to put it all in. 
  • A paperback Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
  • A digital Posititive Traits and a digital Negative Traits Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
And that's not all!

What do you have to do to win? There's no one judging the quality of your writing, no one asking you to jump through hoops. 

Lisa, Erin, and I have shared our stories of how we almost quit writing, along with the breakthroughs that put us on the road to publication. Now we want you to share yours--we want you to know you're not alone, and we'd like to help you make that breakthrough.

Go to the Facebook page. Tell us why you have a compulsion for writing, or tell us about a time you almost quit. Tell us what you do to keep yourself motivated, or share your favorite writing tip.

That's it. We'll pick winners from among those who posted their stories. : ) 

Then come and party with us.

Sound like fun?


Looking forward to seeing you!



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35. Review: The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée by Victoria James

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

When Victoria James asked if I wanted to review her latest release, I had to think about it for all of about 2 seconds.  I have read and enjoyed the other Red River books, so I was eager to jump into The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée.  I’ll admit that I’m always nervous to accept requests from authors, because what if I don’t like their book?  I’m happy to report that once I started this one, I wasn’t concerned about that any longer.  While not every aspect of the story worked for me, most of it pushed all the right buttons.

Grace is a single mother struggling to raise her son without help from anyone.  Her mother, her only source of support, passed away, leaving her with no one to rely on.  Her ex walked out on her while she was pregnant, and even her father is a distant memory.  He walked out on her, too, when she was a young girl, leaving her mother to raise her by herself.  Grace has never had much, but she works hard and provides a loving home for her son. 

The story begins with a terrible car accident; both Grace and Christopher are trapped in her car, with the fiery wreck of a truck threatening to blow at any moment.  Thankfully, Dr.  Evan Manning comes to their rescue, saving both mother and son.  Evan and Christopher are injured during the ordeal, and Evan’s surgical career is over. 

A year later, Grace has managed to locate Evan.  She wants to thank him for saving her and Christopher.  Evan is filling in at the clinic in his hometown of Red River, and he’s hating every minute of it.  He longs for the fast-paced environment of the ER.  The slow pace of the clinic, and the nosy patients, are driving him batty.  He’s not much of a people person, and one of the things he missed least about his hometown is how everyone feels the need to know everyone else’s business.  He’s even so grumpy that the clinic’s long-term receptionist quits and walks out on him.

When Grace and Christopher appear, he’s less than pleased.  He doesn’t want to remember the accident that robbed him of his career.  But then he realizes that maybe their timing is perfect.  He needs a replacement receptionist, and Grace has worked in clinics previously.  He offers Grace a job, as well as a temporary gig – all she has to do is pretend to be his fiancée.  He’s applied for a job as the CEO of a chain of plastic surgery clinics.  It’s not the high pressure excitement of the O.R., but it should be challenging and keep him from losing his mind  to boredom.  To cement the position, he needs a wife.  Or a fiancée.   The company is very family oriented, and he wants all the leverage he can get, so Grace’s sudden appearance is timely.

This was probably the weakest plot point for me.  Grace is unemployed and has rent to pay and a young child to take care of, so I can see her being desperate enough to go along with Evan’s proposal.  He offers her a place to stay, offers to pay the rent on her Toronto apartment, and will even spring for a new wardrobe, because his fiancée is expected to look sophisticated and fashionable.  He’s a complete stranger, and yes, while he did save their lives a year ago, she doesn’t know him, and she can’t be sure that he’s trustworthy.  While I do love the fairy tale simplicity of this set up, I am just too suspicious accept him at face value this early in the game.

What I enjoyed most about The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée was Evan’s growth from a self-absorbed man who put his career before everything else in his life, into a man who learned the importance of family, friends, and roots.  Evan thought that all of the answers to his dissatisfaction with his life would be found in Toronto, as the CEO of Medcorp.  Nothing else mattered to him but snagging that job.  Not his brothers or their wives or their children, or the many people who tried to get him to open up to them and accept how important he was to the community.  For such a smart guy, it takes him an awfully long time to realize what really mattered, and that a big fat paycheck and a lifetime of shuffling around papers wasn’t it.  Evan’s life before he met Grace was so empty and devoid of emotion, it’s no wonder he had a hard time connecting with his own feelings.  They had gone dormant, and it took the shock of a loving woman and a rambunctious boy to jolt them back to wakefulness.

The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée is a sweet, feel good read.  I enjoyed the Red River series,  and the author has become a favorite on my reading list.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by author

From Amazon:

Their marriage bargain is just what the doctor ordered…

Former surgeon and self-professed life-long bachelor Evan Manning has one thing on his mind—to reclaim the career that a car accident stole from him. But when he’s forced to return to his hometown of Red River, Evan comes face-to-face with the gorgeous woman who’s haunted his dreams for the last year—the woman he rescued from the burning car that injured his hand. Now Evan needs her help. In a month, he’ll have the job opportunity of a lifetime…he just needs a wife to get it.

Artist Grace Matheson is down on her luck again…until she walks into Evan Manning’s office. When her sexy former hero hears that she needs work, he offers her a job and a home—if she’ll pretend she’s his fiancée. Grace knows she shouldn’t fall for him. Once the month is up, Evan will be back to his old life. But the more time they spend together, the more real their feelings become—and the more likely heartbreak is.

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36. Did You Write a Book? Sell It Through Your Blog

How to Sell Books Through Blogs Guest Post by Kim Staflund In today's digital environment, selling books through blogs is viable and preferable for many authors. Here's more information on how to sell your published books through blogs. • Interest: You need an audience that has an interest in your book. A series of blogs can help to not just develop, but engage that audience. Let them know

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37. Teaching Writing in Middle School: Notes from the Saturday Reunion #TCRWP

By the time I arrived at Cornelius Minor’s TCRWP workshop, State-of-the-Art Workshop Teaching of Writing in Middle School, harnessing Methods Specifically Described in the New Units of Study, I had been up since… Continue reading

38. Holly Black and the Twelfth Doctor

Holly Black has joined a stellar line-up of children’s authors (to name a few: Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness, Eoin Colfer and Neil Gaiman) who have each crafted a short tale for every incarnation of the eponymous Time Lord.

When the original run of e-books ended in November of last year Matt Smith was the incumbent Doctor but now acting heavyweight Peter Capaldi has taken on the role it seems apt that he should be featured in a story.

Black’s story, Lights Out, is unique in many respects. She had the exciting but “super intimidating” task of penning an adventure for the Twelfth Doctor who, when she wrote it over the summer, had yet to appear on our screens. She was given scripts to aid her (“Some of it was blacked out for mysterious reasons!”) and relied on images but she seemed somewhat relieved to have been allowed to edit Lights Out after seeing Capaldi’s debut, Deep Breath back in August. “When I actually saw the episode [Deep Breath] I went back and made a lot of changes,” she tells me. “Because there’s just something so different about seeing Peter Capaldi owning the role onscreen.”

Read the rest here.  There is also a fun gallery of jackets for each doctor here. I’ve just ordered this as an audio book— I think it will be a lot of fun to listen to.


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39. Time Out While I Finish My Book


One of the most interesting bookshops ever: Centésima Página
on Avenida Central in Braga. That's me, there, wishing I
could read Portuguese, a beautiful but challenging language.

A delightful café bar called Copa. Again, in Braga, Portugal.

Hi, Friends,

I have not been posting because I've been working hard at finishing my book. Almost there, too. I have two more chapters that I'm determined to finish this week before we head home.

Next week I'll be posting again, and when I take writing breaks, I'll be visiting and reading your blogs, as so many of them inspire me. Meanwhile, I leave you with two pictures above from Braga, Portugal. Once we are home, I'll be writing more about that trip as well as bits and pieces about Galicia.

Hasta entonces . . .


0 Comments on Time Out While I Finish My Book as of 10/22/2014 6:04:00 AM
40. Peter Sohn Named New Director of Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’

Yesterday evening, Pixar quietly revealed on Twitter that the new director of "The Good Dinosaur," scheduled to be released in November 2015, is Peter Sohn.

0 Comments on Peter Sohn Named New Director of Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ as of 10/22/2014 4:53:00 AM
41. Spotlight: Spy Fall by Diana Quincy

I have a spotlight for Diana Quincy’s Spy Fall, which looks like a fun read.  The heroine jumps out of airplanes.    She’s got to be nuts!

Blurb:

When a fiery French parachutist lands on a drunken Lord Cosmo Dunsmore, he surmises she’s an angel sent from above. But is she a spy after something far more sinister than his debauched soul?

A fearless parachutist is out of her depth …

 

Mari Lamarre is gaining fame for her daring aeronautic endeavors, but her riskiest adventure begins when she collides with the darkly charismatic son of the Marquess of Aldridge. If her mission succeeds, Cosmo’s father will be ruined.
A rakehell falls for a dangerous woman …

Surrendering to a fierce passion, the two embark on a torrid affair, even as Cosmo vows to protect his family at all costs. But in doing so, will he risk losing the captivating beauty who’s swept into his life and made off with his heart?

Author Bio:

Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Diana’s reporting background is probably the reason many of her books are inspired by true-life events.

Growing up as a foreign service brat, Diana visited many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. When not bent over her laptop or trying to keep up with laundry, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dreams of traveling much more than her current schedule (and budget) allows.

Social Media Links:

Website|Twitter|Facebook|Goodreads|Pinterest

Website: http://www.dianaquincy.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Diana_Quincy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DianaQuincyRomance

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dianaquincy/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7045151.Diana_Quincy

Buy Link: Amazon Exclusive for the first six months

Click cover for product page

Excerpt:

They reached the hot air balloon, where a stable groom stood waiting to assist her. She stooped to untie one of the thick cables tethering the contraption to the ground.

“What I have in mind will give you great pleasure,” she said quietly.

His inky eyes went alert. “Is that so?”

“Release that cable, if you please,” she called to the groom.

He tipped his cap. “Yes, miss.” And proceeded to do just that.

Gesturing toward the other cable, she said to Cosmo. “Untie that, will you?”

“Whatever for?” He glanced at it before frowning back in her direction. “If you completely untether it, the balloon will fly away, as you well know.”

“Exactly.” She leapt into the wicker boat. “Allons. Let us go.”

“Go where? You want me to go up in that?” He took a step back. “I most certainly will not.”

She leaned over the edge of the gondola. “Pour le plaisir, remember?”

Shaking his head, he backed away. Switching to French so the groom wouldn’t understand, he said, “This is most assuredly not the sort of pleasure I meant.”

“You can show me what you do have in mind,” she said in the same language, as she bent over to retrieve and throw sand-filled ballasts out of the gondola.

“Come away from there and I gladly will.”

“I prefer that you come in here.” She offered him the most wickedly sensual smile in her feminine arsenal.

He blinked. Then swallowed. “Angel, you will be the death of me.”

“Perhaps just a little death.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. La petite mort was the French term for the peak of sensual pleasure. “Is that a naughty French reference? Or are you teasing me?”

She laughed aloud, exhilarated at the thought of soaring into the clouds with him. “You shall have to fly with me to find out.”

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42. The 9th Annual Carle Honors – 2014

Traditionally I tend to attend the Carle Honors secretly pregnant.  I’m not sure why this is but at least twice I have walked about, discretely refusing any and all alcoholic beverages.  One of those times I’d discovered the pregnancy mere hours before the event.

No hidden incipient heirs were on display this time around, and that suited me fine.  But what are The Carle Honors, precisely?  Well, they’re best described as an annual benefeit gala for The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  As their little program says, “At the heart of The Carle Honors is a constellation of awards celebrating those individuals whose creative vision and dedication are an inspiration to everyone who values picture books and their role in arts education.”  Each year they designate someone (or sometimes someones) an Artist, a Mentor, an Angel, and a Bridge.  This year those folks broke down into the following categories:

Artist – Jerry Pinkney

Mentor -Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith

Angel – Reach Out and Read (represented by Brian Gallagher & Dr. Perri Klass)

Bridge – Francoise Mouly

On this particular day I decided to lop off my hair right beforehand, thereby assuring that it fool people into thinking I have the ability to blow it out myself (note: I do not).  I have an odd tendency to cut off large chunks of my hair upon the onset of fall after having suffered through a hairy summer.  I have no idea why.  Masochism’s my current working theory.

The event was held at Guastavino’s a fancy little event space where the Honors have been held for the last few years.  It’s a nice area, with a little garden out front where you can change into your high heeled shoes and not look too tawdry doing so.  Inside the hunt begins for waiters bearing trays of tiny food.  You quickly denote your favorites and grab only those.

Every year the Carle has also hosts a big auction at the Honors to raise money.  And because Ms. Mouly was being honored there were at least two original New Yorker covers, including the one that ran after 9/11/01.

Walking through it was time to play my favorite game of If I Had Money, Which One Would I Buy?  In the end, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my favorite art was by Erin Stead.  Shown here:

1 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Can you see what it is?  Probably not.  My phone camera isn’t exactly high quality.  In any case, these are various animals from the book A Sick Day for Amos McGee dressed up like other famous children’s literary characters.  The rhino in the Snowy Day costume was worth my attendance that night alone.

After copious schmoozing and devouring of tiny foods it was time to take our seats for the show itself.  And since we could choose any seat we wanted except those reserved, I plunked myself directly behind this:

2 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

My motivations weren’t actually creepy.  It just happened to be the nearest to the podium I could get for my photos.  Honest!  Scout’s honor!

The festivities were to go on without the presence of Eric Carle himself, which may or may not have been a first.  I got to have my usual smile over the perfection of the universe that a man named Christopher Milne was the head of the Carle’s board.

3 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

There was a brief presentation at the beginning highlighting some of the cool things the Carle does.  For example, they had an event where picture book artists did portraits of kids’ stuffed animals.  You cannot understand the wave of envy I experienced when I heard that.  My daughter entertains a rotating cast of roughly 20-30 stuffed animals.  To get an illustration of one of them would be absolutely delightful.  Well done whoever thought that one up!

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And then on to our hosts!  Once again it was MA locals Tony DiTerlizzi and Angela DiTerlizzi.  Tony got a big laugh when he began with, “I see Jerry Pinkney in the audience.  Good luck, Jerry!  I’m rooting for you tonight!”  They also proceeded to show off a slide show of various picture book mash-ups.  As you can (barely thanks to my camera) see, this is a rather seamless Eloise in the Hunger Games.

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In the program there was a little flyer that gave the complete listing of everyone in attendance.  Always nice to have proof of where I am at a given time.  I like a good alibi.  I also like how I was one of three alliterative BB names present that evening.

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The first presentation was made for “Mentor” Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith.  A former NYPL librarian (!!) Ms. Smith pretty much embodied everything I’d like to be by the time I reach her age.  Whip smart and sharp as a tack she gave a great and very short little acceptance speech.  I made a point to speak to her afterwards since I was fairly certain I was the only working public librarian there in attendance.  She was mighty gracious and we discussed the various branches I live near.

8 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

9 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Next it was a woman I’d actually seen once before at a dinner at NYU.  Dr. Perri Klass should be flown out to every library in the nation to rally the troops.  They should clone her.  Make millions of her and distribute her worldwide because the good she has done with Reach Out and Read cannot be measured.  It was wonderful to hear her speak with Mr. Gallagher.

10 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Ms. Mouly was the next to be honored.  I got a shot of her with Spiegelman’s head near blocking my view:

11 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

But this one’s nicer.  I was so taken with her talk that I didn’t write almost any of it down.  However there was one quote that stood out:

“With children you have to posit a future that is positive and bright.”

12 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Finally, it was time to honor Jerry Pinkney.  His talk was something else.  First off, he took time to discuss his own personal connection to the museum.  In the 1960s he was going to deliver art to a publisher.  As he waited in the lobby the art of N.C. Wyeth graced the walls.  That moment was pinpointed as the one that might have inspired Jerry to make art for kids.  And, as he pointed out, the same could happen for some child in the Carle Museum.

He then quoted his great-granddaughter at the end of his talk.  I was just stunned that he had one.  Seriously?  Well played, sir!

13 The 9th Annual Carle Honors   2014

Finally, Tony and Angela paid tribute to outgoing curator of the Carle, Nick Park.  Nick gave a little speech saying “It’s been like getting paid to go to recess.”  Aw.  No replacement has been found for him quite yet but we’re keeping our ears open for any developments.

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Oh!  I almost forgot.  Each year the Carle Honors give these lovely goody bags away.  And what book was in this year’s bag?  Amongst other none other than WILD THINGS: ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE!!  I was so pleased to hear it.

Many thanks to the Carle for allowing me to attend the soiree.  See you next year!

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43. A Whirlwind of Discovery: A Swiss Cheese Adventure | Book Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed paperback copy of A Whirlwind of Discovery: A Swiss Cheese Adventure, by Darleen Wohlfeil. Giveaway begins October 22, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends November 24, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

44. Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif

In her debut picture book, Oliver, Birgitta Sif explored the experience of an introvert with sensitivity and creativity that resulted in a memorable and worthwhile book. With Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance Sif visits similar, well worn terrain with the same fresh perspective that makes for another memorable picture book. Frances Dean loves to dance, but only when she is all alone.

0 Comments on Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif as of 10/22/2014 4:15:00 AM
45. NEW - art gallery fabrics pt.1

Art Gallery Fabrics will be at the Quilt Market in Houston this weekend (25th-27th Oct) launching lots of fabulous new design collections. Their previews have already gone online showcasing Art Gallery's releases between November 2014 and April 2015. If you are lucky enough to be attending the show look out for them in  Booth #1660. For those of us who cant attend here are some of my picks with

0 Comments on NEW - art gallery fabrics pt.1 as of 10/22/2014 4:59:00 AM
46. Would You Read It Wednesday #150 - Zoo Rules (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor

There is never a dull moment around here.

First, I got a flat tire.  (It's possible this had something to do with the wood full of nails and screws that someone left directly in front of the garage... that I drove over as I hurried out to pick up my daughter from school and wondered, "Hmm... what was that?" Really, your guess is as good as mine... :))

Then the bear came and had a picnic out of our trash cans.  (If you haven't had much experience with bear picnics, I can tell you they are not at all tidy.  There is much clean-up involved...)

Then on Monday the house that's going in down the road from us had its foundation poured, so a parade of cement trucks thundered up and down the road all day.  Scout felt it her duty to bark at the passage of each one.  Both ways.  Jemma hid under the piano.  It was traumatic for everyone.

And now we are expecting rain in these parts so if anyone needs me I will be in my basement in the canoe.

I know!

Harrowing tales of this nature just don't come along every day!

I'm dreadfully sorry if my horror stories have left you in a weakened state, but never fear!  I have snacks!

Continuing with our get-ready-for-Halloween-theme, today's Something Chocolate is just the thing for when you want something sweet, salty, and candy-corny all at once.  (Because really, isn't that a combination you often find yourself wanting?  I know I frequently find myself thinking, "Hmm... I'm in the mood for something sweet, salty and candy-corny... what to have?"  Okay.  I admit it.  I have never thought that.  But there's always a first time :))  And they are pretty :)

Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs :)  Recipe HERE!
I think they might be easy enough for even me to make, so go ahead!  Give them a try!

Now that we have averted any danger of fainting, we have Straight From The Editor for September, which you will recall was won by Hope with her pitch for Cleo And Pinkie:

Whether it is marker stains on the carpet or mud trails in the hall, Cleo blames her mischievous, imaginary friend, Pinkie, for everything. “Pinkie did it!” Soon Mommy can’t take it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” But without Pinkie, the house is too quiet until Cleo makes another mess, this time, to everyone’s delight.

Here's what editor Erin Molta had to say:

This sounds really cute. I made a small tweak because I think if you put the Pinkie did it in the beginning it’s more of a hook. The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was the very ambiguous ending—Cleo made a mess to everyone’s delight? You don’t want to make readers guess, you want to intrigue them, yet this is just confusing. It would be better to be more specific so they can get the joke. Then they would appreciate it more.

“Pinkie did it!” Whether it is marker stains on the carpet or mud trails in the hall, Cleo blames her mischievous, imaginary friend for everything. Soon Mommy can’t take it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” But without Pinkie, the house is too quiet until Cleo makes another mess, this time, to everyone’s delight.

It's amazing what a difference a small change can make, isn't it?  As always, I find Erin's comments so helpful!

Let's move onto Would You Read It, shall we?  (Please, have another pretzel hug if you're feeling peckish!)

Today's pitch comes to us from Michelle, who you will remember from her July pitch for Escalators Don't Bite (WYRI #140).  She is a mom, a teacher, and a writer.  She blogs at http://amomnextdoor.wordpress.com/about/

Here is her pitch: (and she did mention that she's still looking for a title that really zings, so feel free to chime in if you've got any brilliant ideas!)

Working Title: Zoo Rules
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Miss Knaffle's second graders have a thing or two to learn about their teacher. They think they can get away with feeding coffee beans to the class hamster, or making farting houses during read aloud. Will a trip to the zoo set them straight? When the canny Miss Knaffle enlists zoo animals to her cause, readers will delight in seeing what happens to children who don't follow the zoo rules in this PB cross between Peggy Rathmann's GOODNIGHT, GORILLA, and William Bee's WHATEVER.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Michelle improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in December so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Michelle is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to (yes, I warned you last week I would probably say this again!) the Halloweensie Contest!  At least 4 people have mentioned here and/or on FB that they have written stories and I can't wait to read them!  I also can't wait until I think up my sample story, because time is running out and I'm getting just a teensy bit anxious about the fact that I haven't even started thinking about it.  Which is shocking, because usually I'm prepared months in advance.  Oh wait.  That's not me.  Okay.  Everything is right on schedule :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)


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47. NEW - art gallery fabrics pt. 2

Also new from Art Gallery Fabrics are two ranges from Bonnie Christine. Hello Bear, named after Bonnie's son and inspired by the wilderness will be released in January 2015. And (below) also from Bonnie Christine in April 2015 will come a gardening inspired range called Cultivate.  Below : In December 2014 Art Gallery will release Gossamer a dreamy floral

0 Comments on NEW - art gallery fabrics pt. 2 as of 10/22/2014 4:59:00 AM
48. Chinese reforms

       I mentioned Chinese president Xi Jinping's recent address on cultural production in China and, regrettably, it already seems to be having some effect. In the South China Morning Post Nectar Gan reports that the Ministry of Culture thinks it's now a good idea for Art and literature awards to evaluate 'social benefit' of works, as Zhu Di, head of the art department of the ministry:

said Xi's comments on arts and literature -- that works should place social benefits first, should not bow to commercial demands and should be evaluated by the public -- will become "important principals for the ministry's award evaluation system reform in the future".
       Oh, great .....
       Better yet:
The central propaganda department of the Communist Party is taking the lead in reforming guidelines, Zhu said.
       But I have to admit I'm curious how this will work out, since China has a vibrant -- and huge -- writing scene that isn't going to pay any attention to this kind of nonsense.

49. Ali A. Mazrui (1933-2014)

       I'm a bit late in reporting this -- he passed away on the 12th -- but Ali A. Mazrui has died; see, for example, Douglas Martin's obituary in The New York Times or Horace G. Campbell on The Humanism of Ali Mazrui at counterpunch.
       The only Mazrui book under review at the complete review is, predictably enough, his only work of fiction, the woefully under-appreciated (look for mention of it in the obits ...) The Trial of Christopher Okigbo. Flawed though it is, I would argue it's still a very significant/important novel, a major work of the 1970s. (And, yes, I am pretty proud that I already got to this in the much earlier days of the site, reviewing it back in 2001.)

50. Drawing Blind with Philip C. Stead


“SEBASTIAN sat high on his roof—something he was never supposed to do.
‘There is nothing to see on my street,’ he thought. ‘Nothing to see at all.’”

(Click to enlarge)


 

Author-illustrator Phil Stead is visiting today to chat with me about his newest picture book, Sebastian and the Balloon, released by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook earlier this month.

This is the story of a young boy who sets out on an adventure with “all the things he would ever need” and charts a course for the skies — in a balloon he’s built from his grandmother’s afghans. Along the way, he meets a bear (a real one), who joins him in the balloon, yet it’s popped at the beak of a “very tall bird.” Turns out, though, they’ve landed on the house of three elderly sisters, who mend the balloon and help the boy, the bear, and the bird shoo away some pigeons on the other side of the mountain near where they live. The pigeons have gathered on the “most perfect roller coaster,” which together the crew fixes up for an exhilarating ride.

Phil chats with me below about how he made his art, letting nature take its course on your illustrations (and embracing humor error), and leafless trees needing company too. (P.S.: You can see a few other spreads from the book in this June 2014 7-Imp post.)

Jules: Hi there, Phil. Let’s talk about Sebastian, shall we?

So, first up: I want to ask about the art. I hope that’s not a boring way to start.

It almost looked to me like the cover was painted on wood. But I’m not an artist, and I often get these things wrong. I see on the official copyright page note that you used pastels, oil paints, and pressed charcoal. Am I right that this is the first time you’ve used charcoal, or am I dreaming that?

Phil: Hi, Jules!

You are not dreaming. This is the first time I’ve used charcoal.

I gave myself a tricky challenge in making the art for this book. I really wanted to use oil paint as the primary medium. I can get bright color using oils that I’ve always had trouble getting with gouache or acrylic. At the same time, though, I wanted elements of the book to be drawn with my natural hand. The trouble is that you can’t really draw on an oil painting. Oil paint is usually the end of the road. I was getting really frustrated trying to figure this problem out when this little accident happened in my sketchbook:


(Click to enlarge)


 

Now, this might be confusing, but I’ll try to explain as best I can. When an oil painting is mostly dry—tacky to the touch—you can press charcoal into the paint by using homemade carbon paper. I coat one side of a sheet of paper in charcoal, lay that paper on top of the oil painting, then draw with a pencil on the white side of the paper. The pressure of the pencil presses the charcoal permanently into the oil painting. There is one big pitfall to this approach. That is, you’re essentially drawing blind. You can’t see what you’ve made until you peel the carbon paper back off the oil painting. I can live with the kind of mistakes and flubs that come from this kind of uncertainty, though. In fact, I kind of like it. The only time drawing blind made me really tense was on exacting, mechanical images, like these ones of the roller coaster:


“And for the rest of the day and into the night they rode …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“and rode …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

But on others, like these, I didn’t mind:

 


“And when night fell, Sebastian boarded the balloon he’d built from Grandma’s afghans and patchwork quilts. He charted a course. He checked the breeze. He cut the strings …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

By the way, what you’re seeing as a wood-like texture is actually pastel drawing that’s showing from underneath the oil painting. I probably should’ve documented the making of one of these images so I could show rather than tell, but unfortunately I didn’t think of it at the time. David Ezra Stein used a similar technique as this, though, in his book Because Amelia Smiled. He calls his technique “Stein-lining.” You can watch a video about it here:



 

If you substitute crayon for charcoal, you basically get “Stead-lining.”

Does that help?

Jules: Ooh, neat. Thanks for the explanation. Plus, I hadn’t seen that David Ezra Stein video. Chickens playing oboes. Bonus!

This explains a lot about the lines in this book. The first time I read it, I thought that your line was more relaxed than in other books. I like this relaxed, sketchy quality.

One thing I’m very curious about is the color palette. The colors here remind me of picture books of yore. Any particular reasoning behind the dominant colors chosen here? That is, the rust, the tealy-blue (I have spent about 30 minutes now trying to find the name for this color, but I have failed and “tealy-blue” is the best I can do), the yellow.

Also, one more technique-type question before I ask a few more about the story: How’d you pull off the “milky gray fog”?

Phil: I’ll start with the fog.


“The wind picked up and soon it was time to go—up and up and into a milky gray fog. ‘Can you see the end of my nose?’ asked the bear. But before Sebastian could answer there came a loud POP!
(Click to enlarge)


 

It’s actually so simple that I hate to admit it. Especially since I seem to get more questions about this spread than any other. All I did here was make an entire finished image in full color, wait for it to dry, and then paint over the entire thing with white oil paint. The white paint has been thinned with a quick-drying medium, making it translucent. This is one of the biggest images of the balloon in the book, and I’ll admit that I was sad (and scared) to paint right over it, obscuring a lot of the detail. But it had to be done!

As for the color in this book, I decided early on that I wanted to work in a very limited palette. There are only nine colors used in the book, with some variance due to human error. (Fun fact: Erin used only eight colors in A Sick Day for Amos McGee.)


“The nine color swatches I made as a guide for myself …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Any time you limit color choices in a children’s book, I think it naturally calls to mind an era when color choices had to be limited in the days of yore. That said, I did not deliberately limit the colors in this book in order to make it look old-fashioned. I did it, rather, in order to introduce a set of rules into a universe that could’ve easily gone spiraling out of control. A lot of weird things happen in this book. Keeping the color palette so orderly was one way to make the world seem grounded and believable. The restricted palette adds a dead-pan element to what is, admittedly, an pretty insane story arc.

And then there’s one more thing about the color, something that I didn’t originally intend. Remember I mentioned human error? So, I used a quick-dry medium to speed up the drying times of my oil paints.


(Click to enlarge)


 

When using this medium, my paintings would dry in about 48 hours. Without the medium, their drying times would vary from 4-6 weeks, which is way too long when you have a deadline. I’d used dryers before but never in high quantity. Turns out, I was using so much that it accelerated the aging process of all my paintings. About two months after a painting was finished, it would start to yellow and age. It turned my light blues into the tealy color you described. It turned my whites to cream. All of the colors were affected in some way, and to make matters worse they were all aging at different rates. Of course, at first I panicked. But then at some point I started seeing the process as something natural, completely out of my control, and in a weird way, desirable. It was like letting a cheese or a wine age: You begin the process, but nature finishes it.


Book jacket
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: I was going to say that it sounds like making the art for this one was a roller-coaster ride when, OUCH, I realized the horrible pun I’d made.

Okay, just a question or two about story. I always worry about analyzing a book to death when maybe we should just sit back and enjoy it and the art, so okay, I’ll only ask one:

I love how the story begins with Sebastian having a bad case of ennui. I don’t mean depression, which is a serious thing for many people. But he’s got the humdrums somethin’ fierce and really needs an adventure. Maybe I was thinking about that a lot today [Ed. Note: This part of our conversation clearly took place on a Sunday], because Sundays always run the danger of being Ennui Days for me. (Maybe ’cause Monday looms? I dunno.)

So, you call it a “pretty insane story arc.” Once you knew Sebastian needed an adventure, how’d you reign yourself in? I assume you have Sebastian outtakes, parts of his adventure that were maybe cut?

Also, apropos to not-that, I love how the leafless tree ends up having company there at the end. Everyone is happy.

Phil: There have been two feelings that have dominated my psyche over the course of my life so far. And those two feelings are the two main themes in my books as well. They are:

  1. I wish we could all learn to be kind.
  2. I gotta get the heck outta here.

Number two is an amorphous sort of feeling that is part boredom, part dread, part dissatisfaction, part curiosity. This feeling has been with me every day of my life. And to me it’s the feeling that drives Sebastian throughout the story. Boredom-Dread-Dissatisfaction-Curiosity is, after all, the makeup of most kids that I know.

Weirdly enough, there were no deleted scenes in this book. Everything present in the first draft is present also in the final book. When I was writing I wasn’t thinking WHAT NEXT! Really, I wasn’t even trying to be over the top or intentionally strange. The story just went where it wanted to go, and I tried not to get in the way.

I love that you mention the leafless tree. Those three lines are my favorites that I’ve ever written:

And the pigeons flew off,
all the way to the leafless tree.
And the tree was glad to have company.

I didn’t realize it till long after they’d been written, but they sum up everything I hope to accomplish as an artist. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I don’t think I can. All of my books exist in those three lines somewhere.

Jules: Ah. I think we should fade out here …

Thanks, Phil, for visiting.

* * * * * * *

SEBASTIAN AND THE BALLOON. Copyright © 2014 by Philip C. Stead. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Philip C. Stead.

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