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1. Artist: João Ruas

Article by Oli Rogers










Just as geologists observe minutiae within rock strata and so deduce the conditions extant during their formation, so too will future generations of illustrologists be able to sift through banks of images and draw conclusions from their compacted layers. And thusly it is that traces of naively-drawn bears, owls, and deer; nostalgia-addled mid-century aesthetics; characters bespattered with tattoos and sporting large volumes of facial hair; and a preponderance of stuff inside equilateral triangles is what will be seen to comprise the petrified illustrative sediment of the early Twentieth Century.

And yet amongst the accreted layers of silt there’s something wholly less prosaic to be found – indeed, something that is literally otherworldly. That thing is cosmic dust. No one can say for sure whence this star-stuff comes – beyond a vague suggestion that it has voyaged across unfathomably vast gulfs of space and time before becoming sandwiched between layers of pond scum – but one thing is for sure, and that’s that it really couldn’t have less to do with conditions here on Planet Earth. And, once again, it is just so in the fictitious field of illustrology: at times an artist is encountered that seems to have so little in common with the prevailing milieu that they might just as well have come from a different world entirely. Such an artist is João Ruas.

The singular nature of this artist’s work is immediately recognisable. Rendered largely in brooding monochrome with judiciously-applied flashes of colour or gilding, his paintings have more than a little about them of the cartoons of da Vinci – were the Renaissance polymath to take to illustrating hallucinations of the relics of some long-vanished culture, that is. To view Ruas’s portfolio is to witness a parade of sinuous and melancholy figures amidst bones and masks and fantastic costumes, and attended by a menagerie of the baleful and the feral. His animals are creatures out of myth described in the language of dream, and as far from the prevailing tweeness of their contemporaries as is a wolf from a Chihuahua. Amongst other places, this mythical aesthetic has found its perfect application in the celebrated covers that Ruas has produced for the Fables series from Vertigo Comics (see the latter pair of images here).

Those who want to see more would be well advised to conduct an image search, as Ruas’s dedicated sector of cyberspace contains only a tiny fraction of the multitudes of his captivating (and at times NSFW) images that are to be found around the web. They may be scintillae within the strata, but they’re also a reminder that somewhere out there there’s stardust to be found.




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2. Apple Buys Book Recommendation Startup BookLamp

Apple has reportedly purchased the book recommendation engine BookLamp, in a deal whose terms were not disclosed.

Apple confirmed the acquisition to TechCrunch, stating: ”Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

BookLamp.com did not confirm the acquisition, but left a thank you message for its community on the site. “As of today, though, the BookLamp.org site – which has served as a technology demo for the Book Genome Project – will no longer be available as our company evolves its mission.”

The Book Genome Project helps readers discover new books based on similar titles. If it is adopted into iBooks, the tool could help Apple’s eBook platform improve its recommendation experience.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. कौन है तू

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-IN X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]--> 
तड़पती सी हैदुनिया सारी,
या सिर्फ़ तू हीतड़पती है,
दरिंदो के बीचरहती है हरपल जो,
तो क्यूँ नही बिजलीकी भाँति कड़कतीहै,   

कौन है तू- एक सुंदर गुड़िया,
जो घर केकोनो में आँखेंभिगोती है,
या है तूआज़ादी की वोलड़िया,
जला कर संसारको भी जोनही रोती है, 

कौन है तू- एक बहकी जवानी, 
सब जान भीअंधेरो में जोसोती है,
या है तूवो ज्योत दीवानी,
अंधेरे की भूलभुलैयामें भी जोना खोती है,

कौन है तू- बस एक आवाज़,
जो सिफ्र पानी हीहर पल भरतीहै,
या है तूवो निर्णायक शंखनादजो,
हर युध कापूर्णतया अंत हीअब करती है,     

कौन है तू- एक अबला नारी,
कर्कश शब्दो के प्रहारोसे जो डरतीहै,
या है तूएक शक्ति कास्त्रोत,
राख जो हरएक पापी कोयहाँ करती है,
कौन है तू- एक उदासीन साया,
जो इल्ज़ाम दूसरो परही लगाती है,
या है तूवो दैवी छाया,
हर किसी कोराह पर चलकर जो बतातीहै, 

कौन है तू- एक मज़बूर कड़ी,
शब्दो में जिसकीकमज़ोरी ढलती है,
या तू हैवो जीवंत ज्वाला,
हर खुशी जिसकेआँचल में पलतीहै,

इतने रूप हैतेरे सुनहरे,
सबमें समन्व्य क्यूँ नहीतू करती है,
दरिंदो की क्याहोगी औकात,
गर खुद हीखुद से तूनही जलती है.

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4. The Summer Life of a School Librarian

While many of my public library colleagues are in the midst of their busiest season, I’ve only stepped in my library once since the school year ended (and even then I promptly stepped back out, since the library has no air conditioning). Summers “off” are one of the biggest perks to working in a school, but as any teacher will tell you it’s not all piña coladas and sunscreen. For many of us, summers are the only time we can do vital professional development, including summer courses; for others, summer is a time to pick up another job to make ends meet.

So what does summer look like for this school librarian? 1. Reading. I never feel like I have enough time to read. It’s very rare that I’m reading while I’m at work (it usually only happens when the library is taken over for testing, and even then I’m usually too worried about getting the sideye from colleagues), so summer is usually my biggest reading season. This year for the first time I’ll be working with middle school students along with high schoolers, so I’m trying to take my own crash course in middle grade fiction. One tip if you’re moving into a new age group or just trying to stay current: check out your local schools’ summer reading lists. I like to load my Nook up thanks to the Boston Public Schools lists, conveniently located on the Boston Public Library’s Overdrive catalog.

2. Spending. My district’s budget was frozen last year, which meant I stopped buying new books in February–and unfortunately didn’t spend my entire budget. I’m not about to make that mistake again. I put in my first book order early so that the high school students will be able to walk in the doors to new books, and my predecessor at the middle school was gracious enough to get the first order ready to go so that I could ease my way into buying for the younger audience.

3. Interviewing. While some of my friends are looking for new jobs, I’m looking for a new paraprofessional to support me at both libraries. I’m still a little anxious about the evolution of my job, but interviewing para candidates with assistant principals from both schools has given me a valuable opportunity to have real discussions with my administration about the future of libraries and the role I can play working with this broader range of students. I’m particularly excited about the chance to start the conversations I already have with high school students about research and information literacy with the younger grades.

4. Getting married. Okay, so this one doesn’t happen every summer–hopefully never again!–but planning a wedding has really put my research skills to the test. What’s the market price for oysters? How many tables do you need for 80 guests? In a true testament to my librarian temperament, I put together a massive list of things to do in Boston that lives on our wedding website, complete with color coding for the various T stops.

What does your summer look like? Are you knee-deep in summer programming and reading incentives? Are you still in the classroom at a school with a year-round schedule? Or are you like me, trying to cram all your reading and vet appointments into two months?

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5. George R.R. Martin Will Not Write an Episode For ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5

During Comic-Con International, author George R.R. Martin revealed that he would not be penning an episode for Game of Thrones season five. Ever since the HBO show began, Martin made it a practice to write one script each season.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin revealed that the reason for this decision is because “I have this book that I need to finish.” Book fans will be relieved to hear that Marin wants to focus on the highly anticipated A Song of Ice and Fire title, The Winds of Winter. Not too long ago, Martin expressed his extreme distaste for people who speculate that he may pass on before wrapping up his epic book series.

Comic-Con weekend also meant the unveiling of a video (embedded below) featuring all the new additions to the Game of Thrones cast. The new characters who will appear in the forthcoming seasons include Doran MartellTrystane MartellThe High SparrowMyrcella BaratheonAreo HotahYezzanNymeria “Nym” SandTyene Sand, and Obara Sand (to be played by Keisha Castle-Hughes). Thus far, this video has drawn more than one million views on YouTube and over 42,000 “likes” on Facebook. Follow this link to watch the season four blooper reel.


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6. Coming Soon: New Video on Watercolor

Two weeks from today I'll be releasing an art teaching video all about plein-air painting in water media called "Watercolor in the Wild."

The 72-minute HD video will cover all the nuts and bolts of materials, including watercolors, water brushes, and water-soluble colored pencils. I'll show a few basic tricks and techniques, and then I'll bring you along on six outdoor painting adventures, demonstrating both beginning and advanced techniques for urban sketching.

The six paintings include two architectural subjects, a figure in landscape, two animal drawings, and a spontaneous location portrait. Since you asked for videos that show the whole process from start to finish, I made sure to document all six paintings from the first pencil lines to the final touches, along with detailed, helpful commentary and plenty of closeup details.

If you're an experienced artist wanting to try more water media, or if you're a beginner interested in taking your art out "into the wild" for the first time, you'll find this video practical, inspiring, and entertaining.

Here's a photo from the episode where I paint Rosebud, a baby miniature horse. She took a 15-minute nap, and I did a painting while she slept. I documented the whole thing on video from start to finish in real time.

I worked hard to make this one of those art videos that you'll want to watch again and again, because it's both entertaining and informative.

The video will be available as an HD download and a DVD. The DVD will have the addition of a slide show of my plein-air watercolors.

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7. Mailbox Monday - 7/28/14

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do).    

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, has a permanent home now at Mailbox Monday.

Every week Mailbox Monday will have a new linky posted for our Mailbox Monday links at Marcia's Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s a shout out to the new administrators:

Leslie of Under My Apple Tree 
Vicki of I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Serena @ Savvy Verse And Wit 

THANKS to everyone for keeping Mailbox Monday alive. 

I hope you had a good mailbox.  

I had an awesome week of books in my mailbox. 

How full or empty was your mailbox this week?
On Wednesday, July 23, I received:

1.  THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN by Lisa Jewell, courtesy of Ariele Fredman of Simon & Schuster.

I love the cover, and it sounds so good. The title is very alluring as well.  

On Thursday, July 24, I received three books - it was a book feast!!  :)

1.  TAHOE GHOST BOAT by Todd Borg, courtesy of the author. 

I have read a number of Mr. Borg's books, and they are all awesome reads.  I am sure this one will be too.

2.  MADAME PICASSO by Anne Girard, courtesy of Emer Flounders of Harlequin/MIRA.

This was an unsolicited book, but I like surprises.  :)

3.  THE STORY HOUR by Thrity Umrigar, courtesy of Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.

I am reviewing this book for a TLC tour for September 12.

I read her other book, THE SPACE BETWEEN, and it was excellent.

On Saturday, July 26, I received:

1.  AN UNSEEMLY WIFE by E. B. Moore, courtesy of Kayleigh Clark of Penguin Random House Books.

I first saw this book at the SPEED DATING session at the BEA.

2.  THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA by Katy Simpson Smith, courtesy of Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.

I am reviewing this book for a TLC tour for September 26.

What books do you see here that you would want to read?  

How about your mailbox?  

Which title was one you were excited about seeing?

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8. The month that changed the world: Tuesday, 28 July 1914

July 1914 was the month that changed the world. On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and just five weeks later the Great Powers of Europe were at war. But how did it all happen? Historian Gordon Martel, author of The Month That Changed The World: July 1914, is blogging regularly for us over the next few weeks, giving us a week-by-week and day-by-day account of the events that led up to the First World War.

By Gordon Martel

Kaiser Wilhelm received a copy of the Serbian reply to the Austrian demands in the morning. Reading it over, he concluded that the Habsburg monarchy had achieved its aims and that the few points Serbia objected to could be settled by negotiation. Their submission represented a humiliating capitulation, and with it ‘every cause for war’ collapsed. A diplomatic solution to the crisis was now clearly within sight. Austria-Hungary would emerge triumphant: the Serbian reply represented ‘a great moral success for Vienna’.

In order to assure Austria’s success, to turn the ‘beautiful promises’ of the Serbs into facts, the Kaiser proposed that Belgrade should be taken and held hostage by Austria. ‘The Serbs,’ he pointed out, ‘are Orientals, and therefore liars, fakers and masters of evasion.’ An occupation of Belgrade would guarantee that the Serbs would carry out their promises while satisfying satisfying the honour of the Austro-Hungarian army. On this basis the Kaiser was willing to ‘mediate’ with Austria in order to preserve European peace.

In Vienna that morning the German ambassador was instructed to explain that Germany could not continue to reject every proposal for mediation. To do so was to risk being seen as the instigator of the war and being held responsible by the whole world for the conflagration that would follow.

Berchtold began to worry that German support was about to evaporate. He responded by getting the emperor to agree to issue a declaration of war on Serbia just before noon. For the first time in history war was declared by the sending of a telegram.

The bombardment of Belgrade by Austro-Hungarian monitor. By Horace Davis. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The bombardment of Belgrade by Austro-Hungarian monitor. By Horace Davis. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The German chancellor undertook a new initiative to place the responsibility for a European war on Russia: he encouraged Kaiser to write directly to the Tsar, to appeal to his monarchical sensibilities. Such a telegram would ‘throw the clearest light on Russia’s responsibility’. At the same time he rejected Sir Edward Grey’s proposal for a conference in London in favour of ‘mediation efforts’ at St Petersburg, and trusted that his ambassador in London could get Grey ‘to see our point of view’.

At the Foreign Office in London they were skeptical. Officials concluded that the Austrians were determined to find the Serbian reply unsatisfactory, that if Austria demanded absolute compliance with its ultimatum ‘it can only mean that she wants a war’. What Austria was demanding amounted to a protectorate. Grey denied the German complaint that he was proposing an ‘arbitration’ – what he was suggesting was a ‘private and informal discussion’ that might lead to suggestion for settlement. But he agreed to suspend his proposal as long as there was a chance that the ‘bilateral’ Austro-Russian talks might succeed.

The news that Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia reached Sazonov in St Petersburg late that afternoon. He immediately arranged to meet with the Tsar at the Peterhof. After their meeting the foreign minister instructed the Russian chief of the general staff to draft two ukazes – one for partial mobilization of the four military districts of Odessa, Kiev, Moscow and Kazan, another for general mobilization. But the Tsar, who remained steadfast in his determination to do nothing that might antagonize Germany, would go no further than authorize a partial mobilization aimed at Austria-Hungary. He did so in spite of the warnings from his military advisers who told him that such a mobilization was impossible: a partial mobilization would result in chaos, make it impossible to prosecute a successful war against Austria-Hungary and render Russia vulnerable in a war with Germany.

A partial mobilization would, however, serve the requirements of Russian diplomacy. Sazonov attempted to placate the Germans by assuring them that the decision to mobilize in only the four districts indicated that Russia had no intention of attacking them. Keeping the door open for negotiations, he decided not to recall the Russian ambassador from Vienna – in spite of Austria’s declaration of war on Serbia. Perhaps there was still time for the bilateral talks in St Petersburg to save the situation.

That night Belgrade was bombarded by Austro-Hungarian artillery: two shells exploded in a school, one at the Grand Hotel, others at cafés and banks. Offices, hotels, and banks had been closed. The city had been left defenceless.

Gordon Martel is a leading authority on war, empire, and diplomacy in the modern age. His numerous publications include studies of the origins of the first and second world wars, modern imperialism, and the nature of diplomacy. A founding editor of The International History Review, he has taught at a number of Canadian universities, and has been a visiting professor or fellow in England, Ireland and Australia. Editor-in-chief of the five-volume Encyclopedia of War, he is also joint editor of the longstanding Seminar Studies in History series. His new book is The Month That Changed The World: July 1914.

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The post The month that changed the world: Tuesday, 28 July 1914 appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Pinterest and Your Novel

By Julie Daines

The other day I had the most wonderful surprise. A reader read my book, Unraveled, and loved it so much she created a Pinterest board for it with a few pictures that sparked her imagination about certain elements of the story.

I can't believe I didn't think of that. What a great way to share fun visuals with readers. I started thinking how Pinterest could be used as a promotional tool, as a forum to draw readers together to share something they love, or as an idea generator while drafting.

Here is a link to her awesome Pinterest board. It's only got seven pictures, but it captures the novel perfectly.

I'm not always the best at using all the tools at hand when it comes to writing and promoting.

I'd love to hear ideas from all of you on ways you've seen Pinterest--or any of the social media platforms--used in any part of the writing process.

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10. Sketching outside in Amsterdam

Summer is the best time in Amsterdam. When it's sunny, there's a wonderful buzz in town and so much to do and to see. You can choose to go to crowded places in the centre, or choose a quiet terrace and sit in the shade, look at the people passing by, the traffic and to listen to the bits of chatter around you. 
So that's what I do. I feel lucky and blessed to live in such a versatile city and to be able to enjoy it so much.

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11. It's Monday! What Are You Reading - 7/28/14

I hope you had a great reading week.  
This is a weekly meme run by Book Journey!

Post the books completed last week, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish this week. 


Books Completed Last Week:


If you want to read an amazing book, pick up THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION.  

I finished this book last Sunday afternoon. Absolutely LOVED it.  Didn't want it to end.

The publisher requested that I wait until August 26 to post my review.  Sooooo, don't forget to stop back to read my review about an amazing book filled with terrific characters and a terrific storyline.

Look at the cozy, heartwarming cover.  Don't you just love it?


Book Currently Reading: 

THE WISHING TIDE by Barbara Davis.
It is very good already...it has a bed and breakfast with unique characters and one who is a bit mysterious.

Books Up Next:

DON'T TRY TO FIND ME by Holly  Brown


THE STORY HOUR by Thrity Umrigar

THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA by Katy Simpson Smith

TAHOE GHOST by Todd Borg

VILLAGE OF SECRETS by Caroline Moorehead.



WOMAN OF ILL FAME by Erika Mailman


PERFECT by Rachel Joyce



The books below are not necessarily in the order I have planned to read them.  

I normally read in order of publication or tour date.

And....these are not for reading in the upcoming week.  They are books into and including all of 2014.

The "list" is a means of keeping me organized.  A visual display helps a lot for organization along with my Excel lists. 


How was your reading week?  

I added some really good books to my queue the past two weeks.  I can't wait to read:  THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN. 

Which ones do you have your eye on?

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12. Who are Oswald and Phoebe - Book Review


Today I want to tell you about my latest adventure.  It is called Who are Oswald and Phoebe?

If you remember in my first adventure you learned that I was adopted from the animal shelter by a really nice man called Drugu.  Drugu took me home to his house and I got to wander around all of the rooms.  He even took me outside when he was working in the yard.  I also had a very scary experience when I was in the backyard.  You will have to read my first adventure, Cefa Finds a Home, to find out what happened.

I met Bart in my second adventure, Cefa Meets His First Friend.  He is a lizard who lives in the garage.  It was really funny how I met Bart and how we became such good friends.  But, you will have to read my second adventure to find out just what happened.

When Bart and were exploring the back yard we met Norman.  Norman is a shy little mouse who was living in my backyard.  He was afraid because Drugu was digging out all of the bushes.  He though he would not have any place to live.  You will have to read my third adventure, Norman Joins the Group, to find out what happens to Norman and where he goes to live.

Who are Oswald and Phoebe is the fourth in the series about all of my adventures. In Book #4, Bart, Norman and I finally find out what Drugu is building in the back yard.  It is a big hole. He fills it with water. Drugu brings two new friends home with him. Can you guess who Oswald and Pheobe are and where they live? Do you think Bart, Norman and I will enjoy our new friends?   I bet if you put your thinking cap on you can figure it out.  Try real hard.  Then read my 4th adventure and see if you guessed correctly.

We wrote all of my adventures as fun stories, for bedtime or anytime you want to sit down and have some quiet time to read  You might find some lessons in them but they are really just good fun.

If you can't read yet, have your Mom or Dad read it to you. If you can read, you will enjoy learning about what I do, who I meet, and how I enjoy myself. The illustrations are animated, cute and very colorful. Cristine also included several puzzle/coloring pages in the back of the book for you to complete.

You can visit my website at http://www.cefathecat.com. On my website you can learn about all of my adventures and friends. You can also order all of my books by clicking on either the CreateSpace button or the Amazon.com button.  My books are available in both paperback and kindle versions. 

Join me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cefathecat where you can post some of the coloring and puzzle pages you completed to share with all of my fans and friends.

We hope you enjoy, Who are Phoebe and Oswald. Watch for Book #5 which will be out soon. We are also working to make me come to life in an animated version.  I think you will enjoy see me and all of my friends move around the pages.  Check out the website, http:www.cefathecat, for more information.

See you again on Thursday when we’ll post some coloring pages for you to have fun with.

Cefa the Cat

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13. Jenny Milchman & Lori Rader-Day Get Booked

Here are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.

To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.

Writers Jenny Milchman and Lori Rader-Day will appear together at the Mystery One Bookstore. Meet them on Monday, July 28th starting 7 p.m. (Milwaukee, WI)


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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14. Building a Portfolio Website

If you are an illustrator, I highly recommend having a simple portfolio website that you can use to display your work. When you’re querying, instead of attaching images (most editors and agents don’t accept attachments anyway), you can just send a link to your collection. Add new things, change out images in your rotation, and keep it clean, simple, and maintained. That’s about it. And if you’re not tech savvy, you may be able to hire someone via Elance (a freelance marketplace I’ve used to find web designers, or contractors in any arena, in the past) or in your circle of friends to put your image files (scans or digital creations) online. Just make sure that if you use scans, they are of high quality and taken under good lighting that’s true to your intended color scheme.

Two sites that I see a lot of illustrators gravitating to are Wix and SquareSpace. They are built to be user friendly and easy on the wallet. You can use templates provided or get someone to customize your site. These options are modern, work well across multiple platforms, and are easy to link to your other online efforts. I haven’t used either but I’m coming up on a project in my personal life and seriously considering SquareSpace because I like the design and functionality of their sites. I’ve been on WordPress for years and years, so maybe it’s time to try something new, minimal, and graphics-focused!

If all of this is very scary to you, you can just start a free Flickr account and make a gallery of your images. This is the bare minimum, and allows you to host your image and a description (I would opt for one if you can). Send links to the entire gallery in your query so that visitors can click through the whole thing instead of landing on just one image.

Many people overthink this sort of stuff because sometimes computers can be scary and the demands of building a platform seem overwhelming. Don’t let that stop you from putting up a portfolio. Hosting one online has become quite necessary these days, and agents and editors except to see several examples of your work, with different composition, subject matter, tone, palette, etc. (if possible), before they can decide if they’re interested or not.

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15. Guest Reviewer: The Laura Line

I recently posted an interview with Crystal Allen (who happens to blog at The BrownBooksShelf) and I felt bad that I hadn’t read The Laura Line and couldn’t review it. So, I reached out to Olugbemisola Amusashonubi-Perkovich (who also blogs at The BrownBookShelf) and she helped me find a most skilled young lady to write a review. Thanks Gbemi and Ms. ARP!  I’d say we all need to rush out and buy this book!

51O8GYjCtrL._AA160_Title: The Laura Line

author: Crystal Allen

Date: Balzer + Bray; 2013

main character: Laura Dyson

guest review: ARP


Laura Dyson is a fashionista, she plays baseball, and is good at it too, and she has a crush on the school’s baseball star! However,arpphoto she believes she also has a super embarrassing family history, which she is worried will drive him away. So, she keeps it a secret, and sticks with her best buddy Sage, her only friend at school (besides her teacher, of course.) Just like any other middle schooler, she has a big bully, who apparently thinks that she can’t go a day without a candy. NOT POSSIBLE! She always has a couple of Almond Joys in her pocket, even if they are a little squished, and she tries to keep her special “CHUNKY HUNKY” (a.k.a, her crush, Troy Bailey,) in sight at all times. Unfortunately for Laura, he won’t even give her a second glance.
But then, Laura and her class have to write an assignment, and Laura is pushed on all sides to learn about her long family line of strong, black women. And by doing this, she discovers they might not be so embarrassing after all….
After a few sticky situations like accidentally damaging something important to her family, and more Almond Joys, this funny story comes to an end, and we say goodbye to the wonderful, amazing, baseball player, fashionista Laura Dyson.
This book helped me understand how important it is to stay true to your culture and heritage, and most of all your family. I also liked the way that Ms. Allen showed that appearance isn’t everything.
I would recommend this book to anyone, but if you like realistic fiction, this book is especially for you!

Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: ARP, Crystal Allen, Geust Reviewer

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16. Two Tales Of Twins From Ancient Greece And Rome By Ursula Dubosarsky. Armidale, Christmas Press, 2014

This is the third publication by Christmas Press, and just as beautiful as the others. Like the first two, Two Trickster Tales From Russia by Sophie Masson and Two Selkie Stories From Scotland by Kate Forsyth, it's written by a respected veteran writer of Australan children's books. 

Unlike the first two, it's taken from mythology rather than folk tales and mythology is different. It can get nasty. More kudos, then, to Ursula Dubsarsky for managing to adapt stories about characters who in the original myths were not particularly sympathetic, for children! The two stories are about the childhood of Apollo and Artemis and that of Romulus and Remus. It does have to admit that the story of the twins who founded Rome is not one with a very happy ending, but manages to avoid telling the young reader that Romulus murdered his brother. For the Romans, it was terribly important, the story of their founding, and the killing was just a part of it. Myth and legend can be nasty, simple as that.

The art by David Allan is gorgeous, well worth the price of the book, even if it weren't for the stories.

Read it to your young children or let the slightly older ones read it for themselves.


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17. Ahh, There Are Those 'Professionals' Again...

I would like to make it very clear that I do no, in any way, support or comment on comic forums -especially in the UK.  Neither am I interested in commenting on "He said this" or "He said that".  DO NOT CARE.

I lost too much time from writing and drawing over these things before.

I'm writing and drawing comics and trying to sell them while I have the time so please don't send me emails that are just crap trying to stir up trouble.

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18. BIG NEWS from a singing gorilla

Last month, I tweeted this seemingly mundane thing about gorgeous weather, tattoos and farmer's markets putting me into good mood:

But in reality there was more to the story. Way more. I was bursting with a huge secret. "I literally cannot tell you how this day could get better" was my little nod toward that. I mean, don't get me wrong, the farmer's market, the perfect Seattle summer day, and my impending tattoo plans were wonderful, but literally I could not say how or why my day was so freakin' above-and-beyond-my-wildest-dreams amazing. Now I finally can because this announcement ran in today's print edition of Publishers Weekly:

Yeah. My next book is going to be a zine-style memoir (think a bunch of my personal essays from Rookie illustrated and woven together to create a cohesive story of my life from ages um 8 to 25) and it is going to be published by Dutton and edited by the one and only JULIE STRAUSS-GABEL, who I have been DREAMING of working with for YEARS.

Here is a summary of how I've been feeling since I've received this news:

I always thought that that last image of Sally Draper is how I would actually react when I got the call, but here is the actual (albeit slightly blurry) reaction shot taken by my husband:

Yes. That is a gorilla in a tuxedo. A singing, dancing gorilla in a tuxedo. Amazing Agent Adrienne decided that this news was something that a simple phone call COULD NOT cover, especially since we've worked so long and so hard for it. Those of you who have been following this blog or Twitter or Facebook or elsewhere know that for me getting published AGAIN has been an even harder experience than getting published the first time. My last book, Ballads of Suburbia, came out almost five years. It sold six years ago. In that intervening period (i.e since January of 2009 when I finished revisions on Ballads) I've written a couple of YA partials, a full YA novel and an adult novel that haven't found homes yet. I've also been writing for Rookie since it launched in September of 2011.

I signed with Adrienne in October of 2011. She's been the one shopping all of those projects I mentioned above. She's seen me through many moments of writer's block, self-doubt, and full-on crises of faith. She once sent me a copy of The Little Engine That Could to remind me that she believed that I would get through my WIP and I would find my way back to the bookshelves. It was her unceasing faith that kept me writing and pushing through rejection, hard times, and heart break. I'm still working on the words and some sort of grand gesture to thank her. A grand gesture like the one she made on Tuesday, June 17th at 8 pm when she sent a gorilla to my door. I'd told her that I didn't have a proper "The Call" story because I'd received emails not phone calls about my previous two sales. This is definitely "The Call" story to end all "Call" stories and here it is as I told it to my critique partners (who fortunately I was allowed to tell early on because otherwise I would have died). 

A couple important items of note to the story: Scott is my husband and apparently he and Adrienne had been colluding over Facebook messages for a week once Adrienne was aware that Things Were Very Likely Going To Happen (she never told him I had an offer, she said she wanted to send a surprise to "encourage me") and I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago and was icing it because I'd gone running when I got home from work (I showered before this all went down thankfully, but I am sans makeup, hair drying weirdly, and in a random t-shirt--I mean, really, Charlie Brown Halloween shirt, I have to remember you forever?)

But without further adieu, THE CALL as told in some version or other to Tara Kelly, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Alexa Young (ie. the women who along with Adrienne who have continually kept me going for the past 6 years):

So at 8 pm our door buzzer goes off, and I am mystified because you know, packages don’t get delivered that late. I’m in the process of icing my ankle so I tell Scott to answer the buzzer. He says there’s something at the door for me. I’m like, "I didn’t order anything, am I fucking getting served or something?" (Because of course my mind goes to the worst possible thing...) Scott was like, "Well, you better go down and sign for it." At that point, I was almost kind of pissed, like why is he making me limp downstairs instead of signing for me and who is this interrupting Orange is the New Black? 

Then I open the door and there is a gorilla in a tuxedo with an iPod dock boombox asking if I’m Stephanie. 
I was so beyond confused that at first it didn’t even compute when he said, "This is from Adrienne," because I was thinking it was some sort of joke maybe from my friend Eryn or Beth Ellen, who have that sort of sense of humor and knew I’ve been dealing with some shit lately. Also, not gonna lie, there was still a small part of me wondering if this was some elaborate way to mug me (you can take the girl out of Chicago, but…). The gorilla had to ask if he could come in, so I ushered him into the lobby of my building and I guess at that point Scott had arrived and took this picture: 

The gorilla started playing “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang (which was my first cassette tape because when the Cardinals won the World Series when I was a kid it was their theme and I was obsessed. I cannot recall if this is in the memoir or was just a lucky bit of fate) and at that point my brain finally put two and two together. Adrienne. Your agent. Celebration. Dancing gorilla. But at first I still couldn’t even let myself believe it. At one point some of the people in the apartment nearest the front door came out and were like, “What is going on? Why are we celebrating?” And I was like, "I have no idea!!!"

I think they somehow comprehended before I did because they said congrats and went inside as the song was ending. Then the gorilla was like, "Congratulations!" and I think he maybe said we had an offer, but I’m actually not sure, he told me that I had to call Adrienne RIGHT NOW. And I said, "I don’t have my phone!" Scott tried to give me his and I’m like, "Dude, I don’t know her number." So then the gorilla gives me his phone which is already cued up and dialing Adrienne and he instructs Scott to video tape it. Good thing, too because the conversation is kind of a blur. Basically, all I remember is saying, “Hi, Adrienne, this is Steph, I’m, uh, calling from the gorilla’s phone?” And I think she said something like “I promised you a good 'The Call' story.” And I said, “So this is it? This is The Call?” And then she told me, “Well, worst case scenario, we're selling your memoir to Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton.” And I practically passed the fuck out while Adrienne laughed. Of course she was totally kidding about the whole "worst case scenario" thing--it was actually the "dream come true scenario." 

After more giggling on both ends and me stammering, "Oh my god," we said goodbye to the gorilla. (I did not tip the gorilla! I feel bad about this! I had no wallet though. Maybe Scott tipped him? Maybe that isn’t necessary???) Then I went upstairs, called Adrienne back on my own phone and got all of the details. I also asked, "Is this actually real?" several times. As I mentioned earlier I’ve wanted to work with Julie for years (and for you writers out there, she has passed on more than one of my manuscripts—it really is about right book, right time). She’s edited some of my favorite books including both of Nova Ren Suma’s masterpieces, Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone; Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door (as well as the forthcoming Isla and the Happily Ever After, which I’m currently devouring) by Stephanie Perkins A.K.A. my fellow YA writer named Stephanie with brightly colored hair; If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, and of course, Looking for Alaska by John Green, A.K.A., the book my first agent told me to read when I expressed some shock about her idea to shop my first novel as a YA.

Adrienne also thought Julie would be perfect for this project, so by the next day (right before I posted my “I cannot tell you…” tweet), even though we had interest from other publishers, we were only negotiating with Julie and Dutton and by Thursday, June 19th at noon, we’d officially accepted their offer. The book hadn’t even been on submission for two weeks (it was barely a week when we got the offer). Since it took over a year to sell my first book and I’ve had other things out for even longer than that, I was floored.

I’m still floored.

And I’m beyond grateful.

And now I’ve got about half a book to write, so…. I’ll conclude the same way I did in my recent YA Outside the Lines blog post about the best advice I could give aspiring writer me or any aspiring writer is that nothing will go as expected: “The things you didn’t or couldn’t plan often turn out better than you possibly could have imagined.”

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and to everyone who is as excited about this book as I am!

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19. Highlights Foundation!

I'm thrilled to announce that I will be a guest speaker at Highlights Foundation's "From Prose to Picture to Published: Writing a Marketable Picture Book 2014" in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, on October 31st - November 2nd, with fellow picture book creators Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann, and David Wiesner!!!! Wowsa - I can't wait!
     Highlights Foundation hosts workshops like this one throughout the year on what I'm told is a gorgeous campus with sweet cabins and fabulous food. The tag line is "Intimate & inspiring workshops for children's authors and illustrators," and the line-up of options is impressive. CLICK HERE to check them out!

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20. Give yourself time

We saw the brown bear from the boat's prow. We saw it watching us. It seemed in need of a good grooming (weren't we all, at that point?) and hungry (we were not).

I think of that bear now, these few weeks past our Alaska excursion. All alone on a rocky shore, turning the stones with its nose, looking for sustenance, finding only us at an unavailable distance.

At the close of one project and another chapter, I will soon be turning stones, too. In the meantime, I am happy to feel the breeze, to think without hurry, to explore quietly.

Give yourself time, Beth, my father says.

Three simple words.

The right ones.

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21. My tweets

  • Mon, 01:08: I was just watching #TrueBlood in another language and didn't notice for five minutes. I am not sure what this means.
  • Mon, 01:35: Is it wrong that I don't want sleep Tara to get her pretty dress all grave-dirt messed up? #TrueBlood

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REVOLUTION HAS COME which side do you choose? our world moans and groans under the weight of “progress” while our trees die from acid rain and our rivers, once teeming with wildlife, are suffocated by our excess The future of our world, our children, are abused, silenced and tossed aside like pieces of trash with…

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23. It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 7-28-14

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers.
Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews!

All I can do is laugh at how drastically my life and time and priorities have shifted in the last month.  Reading and sharing reviews has been a weekly priority for me for so long, and now I find it takes me two weeks to read half the amount I used to read per week.  And while I know that I eventually need to amp it up (as I have commitments to the committee I am on), for now I will enjoy my crazy schedule with the little nugget sitting next to me.  He's just chillin, looking around, but as many of you know, my time here could be up at any moment!  So, I will be brief!

Book I Read this Week:

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs
Amulet Books, 2014
Science Fiction
192 pages
Recommended for grades 2-4

I love Amulet Books, and I love Jon Scieszka.  But do I love this new series around Frank Einstein?

Well...I love that this new series is science fiction-the section in my classroom library that might just be the smallest of all genres.  It can be hard to find accessible science fiction texts for my 3rd & 4th grade readers.  This series will certainly fit the bill for my readership.  Is this amazing writing?  No.  And I feel confident that Mr. Scieszka would not be offended by that statement.  The book is geared toward a younger crowd with simple sentence structure throughout most of the story.  Sprinkle in humor, robots, a child genius and a dastardly plan by an evil kid scientist and we have a story that boys especially will have a fun time with!  Afterall, isn't Jon all about guys reading?!

On Deck:

Loving so far!

Thanks for stopping by!  In this short time I now have a screeching nugget demanding brunch.

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24. Face-Lift 1212

Guess the Plot

Ratman's Revenge

1. When Batman's latest movie is turned into a laughing stock thanks to a typo, the caped crusader goes on the rampage, clad in garments sourced from the gutter. Can the Joker persuade his nemesis to get real for the good of comics buffs worldwide? Or will he too run afoul of the errant wordsmith, and forever be cast as...the Poker? Or the PUKER?

2. When he discovers an awesome underground city with crystal caves and super-powered friends, Cody is thrilled. He's ready to make it his permanent home. Now, if only that mutant man-sized rat would quit trying to exterminate him.

3. In a damp cave where all God's creatures used to scurry and play, one lone rat hides. With one arm in a sling and two whiskers singed to the nubs, he waits, plotting his revenge.

4. Detailing Andrew Ratman's lifelong campaign to wreak vengeance on anybody who does so much as snicker at his name when introduced.

5. Ratman has successfully defeated the Diddler, Shoe-Face, and Gnatwoman. But when DC Comics lawyers coming knocking at the Ratcave door, can he convince them that he's not infringing on their copyrights? Or will Ratman meet his end at the hands of Cease-and-Desist Man?

6. Exterminator JC Bardley hasn't had a good day. His wife left him for the deli guy; his daughter called from Swarthmore, telling him she needs more money; and his son got thrown off the track team for something that happened in the showers. So when his accountant calls to say the tax man cometh, he heads for the company truck. It's time for the . . . Ratman's Revenge.

Dear Evil Editor:

When eleven-year-old Cody sneaks into an underground city, he battles a giant rat with paranormal powers determined to exterminate him. [We don't need this sentence; it's all repeated later on, except Cody's age, which can be added at the start of the next sentence.]

Cody is fed up with feeling [feels] left-out when his friends go off to summer camp and his too-busy-to-care divorced parents bail on him again. He ventures into the woods for the first time and discovers a tunnel leading to a city hidden underground with crystal caves, slugs-and-bugs soup, and new friends with awesome abilities like reading minds and seeing visions. [In some cities, seeing visions is considered less an ability than an affliction.]

Best. Home. EVER. [A place where people can read my mind doesn't sound so great to me, but of course when I was an eleven-year-old I probably didn't constantly imagine my teacher naked.]

But Cody’s new adventures take a pants-wetting turn when the people who protect the city, the Detectors, start disappearing. [That doesn't sound like a pants-wetting turn. More like a mere downturn or setback.] Without their warnings, the city could get blind-sided by earthquakes, floods, or invasions by deadly beasts. Using their psychic abilities, the city’s leaders discover someone is controlling the minds of the Detectors, but they have no idea who or why.

Cody isn’t about to let his new home come crashing down around him, but every time he tries to help, a mutant man-sized rat attacks him. Ratman roasts Cody with a hot crystal, pushes him down the Devil’s Mouth hole, and tries to drown him in the river. [Now those sound like pants-wetting turns.]

But Cody can’t stop. His clues point to Ratman as the one controlling the Detectors. And since Cody is the only one who sees the giant rat, no one else believes the freaky fur-face even exists. [Not that it matters, but is Ratman invisible to others, or does he attack only when no one else is around?]

It’s up to Cody to trap Ratman in time to save the Detectors and the city from whatever this whiskered weirdo is plotting. Or at least before Ratman’s next attack actually kills Cody.

RATMAN’S REVENGE, 76,000 words, may appeal to readers of Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven and Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember. I am enclosing the synopsis below per your guidelines.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

(my info)


Usually when you seek revenge, it's on someone who's wronged you. If no one even believes Ratman exists, how will anyone know why he wants revenge? How satisfying will Ratman's revenge be if no one knows what they did to incur his wrath? In Revenge of the Nerds, the revenge wouldn't have been nearly as sweet if the Nerds had simply bombed the jocks' frat house and the jocks all died never knowing what hit them. In Revenge of the Sith . . . well, I never saw that one, having given up on Star Wars after the Jar Jar Binks episode.

All of which is why you should change the title to Cody Cooper and the Mutant Man-sized Rat. This makes it easy to name all the sequels, i.e. Cody Cooper and the Mutant Man-sized Porcupine.

Other than that, it does sound like something kids would dig. Although it's often said that kids like to read about older kids, so if you want your audience to include 11-year-olds, you could make Cody 13.

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25. Number One Sam, by Greg Pizzoli (ages 3-6)

Kids love racing against each other -- but how do we help them learn to have fun racing without hurting their friendships? It's a delicate line that kids, especially competitive ones, need to learn. Here's a book you'll love sharing with your kids, because it will make them laugh, but it will also help them think.
Number One Sam
Disney Hyperion, 2014
ages 3-6
Sam is the number one racer, always coming in first place. Just look how happy he is racing around the curves -- he's a guy that kids will love cheering on. I love Greg Pizzoli's artwork, full of dramatic lines and curves, but imbued with such bright, happy colors.

But one race day Sam's friend Maggie comes in first place, and Sam is devastated. "The night before the next race, Sam didn't sleep one wink." Little kids will know just how nervous he is. Sam works hard not to be a sore loser, and to do his best to win the next day.

Pizzoli throws a delightfully unexpected twist in the story--Sam is driving his best, passing all his friends and confident that he will win the race again. But, oh no!!!, he sees five adorable little chicks crossing the road.
"Sam could steer around the chicks,
but would the other racers see them in time?"
I can't wait to read this to little kids and see how they react to Sam's dilemma! Pizzoli creates a situation that kids will be able to relate to: how they can be competitive but also good friends. What makes this book so great is that it will help families share an experience and create conversations. And Pizzoli does this while keeping the story trimmed down to its essence: dynamic yet spare, easy to read yet captivating.

Just take a look at the Kirkus starred review of Number One Sam:
"No. 1 takes on a whole new meaning. Pizzoli’s story is a simple class act. Do the right thing—you can’t lose, ever. And most of the time, the right thing is no great philosophical conundrum but as clear as the checkered flag.
A polished work, from the words to the finish on the race cars."
Number one in my book. I'll be sharing this with our kindergarteners as we talk about what it means to be a friend.

If you like this story, you might enjoy checking out:

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Disney Hyperion Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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