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1. Happy Hallowe'en! Norman's A Scream!

Inline images 1
WRITER: Stan Silas
ARTIST: Stan Silas
FORMAT: 64pp – HC – FC - 8” x 11.1”
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
PRICE: $10.99/$12.99 CAN/£9.99 UK
ISBN: 9781782762393


A Is For Arterial Spray! B Is For Blood-Soaked! C Is For Corpses!

Eight years old. Blonde-haired elementary school psychopath. Looks so cute while burying his eviscerated friends in the sandbox. With humor as black as dried blood, Norman looks set to join the padded-cell pantheon of murderous lunatics – and this time he’s bringing his lunch money!

Inspired by his horror movie heroes Freddy KruegerJason Vorhees & Michael Myers, Norman brings murder to the schoolyard in this black comedy horror from creator Stan Silas.

Norman Vol. 1 hits comic stores on March 4, 2015 and is available to pre-order now from your local comic store using Diamond order code: NOV141651

To pre-order via Amazon, visit

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2. Reread #44 Frankenstein

Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]

Almost every time I read it, I focus on something new, something that I might have missed, something that I hadn't considered before. I thought I would share my observations with you instead of a traditional review.

Stories. Frankenstein is a story within a story. But it's more than that. It's a text that utilizes stories and storytelling even within that framework. The first story, of course, is the one Robert Walton is communicating to his sister, Margaret, through letters. After the first few letters, Walton stops being so introspective and focuses on telling someone else's story. Victor Frankenstein's story. This is written in the letters in first person, as if Victor himself were telling the story--sharing it. Within that big story, are dozens of little stories. The story of how his parents met. The story of his birth and childhood. The story of how Elizabeth was adopted. The story of how he became interested in science. The story of his mother's death. The story of his going away to university. The story of his madness--his obsession--and how he came to create life. The story of his sickness and recovery. The story of his learning about his brother's death/murder. The story of Justine. You get the idea. Each story is crafted and shaped. These stories are how he sees himself and the world, his place in it. Some of the stories are personal and a vital part of the plot. Other stories are more like asides. But this isn't Victor's story alone. Midway through the book, readers learn the creature's story. Even though this is written in first person though the eyes of the creature--the monster--the words are for better or worse being filtered through Victor Frankenstein's memory. He's telling what the monster said. He's telling what the monster heard. And Robert Walton is then passing along Frankenstein's story of the events and conversations. The creature is a storyteller as well. He recalls his life, his memories, his desires and needs. But he also focuses in particular on one family, one French family living in exile. This section has multiple stories. Including one focusing on a young woman. Though it may seem like an aside to readers, the stories matter very much to the narrator, the creature. The stories are providing for him a framework of the world, of how it works, of what life and love are all about. The stories resonate with the creature. He has seen love. He has seen family. He has seen fellowship and community. Because he has seen this, he feels the lack of it in his own life. But it isn't just the unfolding story that he personally witnesses. He is also shaped by the stories--the words--in the books he oh-so-conveniently is able to read. Words and stories matter. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, the stories we share with others, they all matter. For example, I think the story the creature told himself over and over and over again was it is all Victor's fault. He made me. He gave me life. He made me this ugly, this revolting. He made me this large and strong. He left me--he abandoned me. He didn't love me. He never loved me. He rejected me. He made it so everyone would reject me. Why does everyone reject me? It's his fault. It's all his fault. He made me have killing-hands. He made me have killing-thoughts. He didn't show me a better way. He didn't teach me. He didn't raise me. I had to learn everything all by myself. It is his fault. I'm not responsible. Why would I be? It is his fault! If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be so miserable, so alone, so full of angst. I wouldn't feel pain or hunger or thirst. I wouldn't feel at all. The monster has his Job moments. One last thing, Victor Frankenstein speaks of the power of words, of persuasion. He warns that the creature has a way with words, that he can manipulate people by his persuasiveness. He warns Walton not to let himself be manipulated by the creature's story--his words and pleas. Is there any truth to this? Is the creature trying to masquerade himself as an angel of light? His actions say one thing: he's a killer, a murderer, he premeditates at least some of his crimes. His words say another: no one loves me, everyone runs from me, it's all HIS fault.

Questions. It's hard to read Frankenstein without questions. Who is the real monster? Who should be held responsible? Is there anyone who shouldn't be held responsible? Why is human life valued so little by ego-obsessed people? Why does Walton idolize Frankenstein?

Victor Frankenstein, Robert Walton, and the creature share a few things in common. They are introspective, moody, obsessed, and lonely. True, there are differences in their obsessions. Robert Walton is obsessed with glory, with adventure, with discovering the Northwest Passage. Walton has spent years if not decades obsessed with the North Pole, with the arctic regions. This started as a boy with books, with stories and words. His dream shifted slightly for a brief period of time when he wanted to be a poet, but, ultimately he came back to his first love. He didn't give up his poetic personality/nature however. Victor Frankenstein is first obsessed with science, with electricity, with creating life. This playing God leads to no good--it leads to madness and murder. I believe the madness started long before he was successful. I have never understood how he could piece together this creature--this eight-foot creature--and it is only when he is alive that he realizes that it is monstrous and ugly and unnatural and threatening. Why make it eight-feet? Why make it so unhuman? Regardless, having created life, he then becomes obsessed with destroying it--with murdering his demon-creation, his monster. His only reason to live is to track down and kill the monster. The monster's obsession? Well, he's driven by anger and pain. He wants to HURT Frankenstein. He is acting out, having murderous temper-tantrums all to get the attention of the one who gave him life, his father, his creator. He wants what he can't have. He wants love and acceptance. He wants to belong. He wants companionship and family. He wants to be happy. He wants to be treated fairly and humanely. He doesn't want to be judged based on appearances. He taunts and haunts his creator. He wants Frankenstein to be just as miserable and desperate as he is.


Robert Walton meets Victor Frankenstein:
In the morning, however, as soon as it was light, I went upon deck and found all the sailors busy on one side of the vessel, apparently talking to someone in the sea. It was, in fact, a sledge, like that we had seen before, which had drifted towards us in the night on a large fragment of ice. Only one dog remained alive; but there was a human being within it whom the sailors were persuading to enter the vessel. He was not, as the other traveller seemed to be, a savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island, but a European. When I appeared on deck the master said, "Here is our captain, and he will not allow you to perish on the open sea." On perceiving me, the stranger addressed me in English, although with a foreign accent. "Before I come on board your vessel," said he, "will you have the kindness to inform me whither you are bound?" You may conceive my astonishment on hearing such a question addressed to me from a man on the brink of destruction and to whom I should have supposed that my vessel would have been a resource which he would not have exchanged for the most precious wealth the earth can afford. I replied, however, that we were on a voyage of discovery towards the northern pole. Upon hearing this he appeared satisfied and consented to come on board. Good God! Margaret, if you had seen the man who thus capitulated for his safety, your surprise would have been boundless. His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition. We attempted to carry him into the cabin, but as soon as he had quitted the fresh air he fainted. We accordingly brought him back to the deck and restored him to animation by rubbing him with brandy and forcing him to swallow a small quantity. As soon as he showed signs of life we wrapped him up in blankets and placed him near the chimney of the kitchen stove. By slow degrees he recovered and ate a little soup, which restored him wonderfully. Two days passed in this manner before he was able to speak, and I often feared that his sufferings had deprived him of understanding. When he had in some measure recovered, I removed him to my own cabin and attended on him as much as my duty would permit. I never saw a more interesting creature: his eyes have generally an expression of wildness, and even madness, but there are moments when, if anyone performs an act of kindness towards him or does him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equalled. But he is generally melancholy and despairing, and sometimes he gnashes his teeth, as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses him.
 Robert shares his big, big dream with Victor:
I was easily led by the sympathy which he evinced to use the language of my heart, to give utterance to the burning ardour of my soul and to say, with all the fervour that warmed me, how gladly I would sacrifice my fortune, my existence, my every hope, to the furtherance of my enterprise. One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race. At first I perceived that he tried to suppress his emotion; he placed his hands before his eyes, and my voice quivered and failed me as I beheld tears trickle fast from between his fingers; a groan burst from his heaving breast. I paused; at length he spoke, in broken accents: "Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me; let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!"

And so it begins...
Yesterday the stranger said to me, "You may easily perceive, Captain Walton, that I have suffered great and unparalleled misfortunes. I had determined at one time that the memory of these evils should die with me, but you have won me to alter my determination. You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been. I do not know that the relation of my disasters will be useful to you; yet, when I reflect that you are pursuing the same course, exposing yourself to the same dangers which have rendered me what I am, I imagine that you may deduce an apt moral from my tale, one that may direct you if you succeed in your undertaking and console you in case of failure. He then told me that he would commence his narrative the next day when I should be at leisure. This promise drew from me the warmest thanks. I have resolved every night, when I am not imperatively occupied by my duties, to record, as nearly as possible in his own words, what he has related during the day. If I should be engaged, I will at least make notes. This manuscript will doubtless afford you the greatest pleasure; but to me, who know him, and who hear it from his own lips—with what interest and sympathy shall I read it in some future day! Even now, as I commence my task, his full-toned voice swells in my ears; his lustrous eyes dwell on me with all their melancholy sweetness; I see his thin hand raised in animation, while the lineaments of his face are irradiated by the soul within. Strange and harrowing must be his story, frightful the storm which embraced the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it—thus!
I've reviewed Frankenstein several times in the past. 2007. 2009. 2010. 2011

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. A fun Halloween party

Here's my idea of a fun Halloween party. This story was inspired one November morning by too much leftover halloween candy and coffee.

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4. 2 NYC Library Organizations Team Up to Win the Battle of the Book Sorters

NY & BK library book-sortingThe New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library teamed up for the 4th Annual Battle of the Book Sorters. The two New York City organizations went up against the Washington state-based King County Public Library.

Here’s more about the contest: “New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library share a state-of-the-art, automated book sorter (as well as all book delivery operations), so they form one team. King County, which has its own book sorter, won last year, and is currently leading the annual contest with two wins to New York’s one.”

In one hour’s time, Team New York sorted 12,570 items and emerged victorious. The winning competitor received the “Lyngsoe Sorting Cup” prize package which includes beans from Seattle’s Best Coffee and salmon. If the King County team had won, they would have collected cheesecake from Junior’s and pastries from Ferrara’s.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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5. Mark Buehner - Children's Book Illustrator

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6. Comic: Personal Muse

And speaking of inspiration, don't forget to check out the previous post from Paper Lantern Lit and former HarperCollins/Razorbill editor Lexa Hillyer about how to establish the right wants and needs of your characters.

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7. 10 Books I Loved This Week

10 Books I Loved This Week 

So, as an avid reader, I go through about 5 books a week and love it. Maybe it's an obsession, or maybe it's a passion, but whatever it is it's working. Needless to say, I have quite an extensive list of books to share, most of which are YA. So here they are, 10 books I loved this week and highly recommend! 

1. Atlantia, by Ally Condie 

2. The Selection, by Kiera Cass 

3. Uninvited, by Sophie Jordan 

4. The Matched Trilogy, by Ally Condie 

5. The Rules, by Stacey Kade 

6. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer 

7. Made for You, by Melissa Marr

8. Wither, by Lauren Destefano 

9. Panic, by Lauren Oliver 

10. Black Ice, by Becca Fitzpatrick 

And there you have it folks! 10 YA books that I loved this week and you should go read right now. Seriously, you won't get anything done all week, they're that fantastically gripping. 

Best wishes and happy reading,

-Ashley Dawson 

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8. Straight From the Source: J. Anderson Coats on Writing Historical Fiction

J. Anderson Coats is the author of historical fiction for young adults that routinely includes too much violence, name-calling and petty vandalism perpetrated by badly-behaved young people.  Her first YA novel, THE WICKED AND THE JUST, was one of Kirkus’s Best Teen Books of 2012, a 2013 YALSA Best for Young Adults (BFYA) winner, and a School Library Journal Best Books of 2012 selection.  It also won the 2013 Scandiuzzi Children’s Book award (the Washington State Book Award for teens).

How long do you typically research before beginning to draft? At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue once you begin writing?

The answer is, maddeningly, it depends.

With W/J, I had an advantage when it came to research. I was the kind of unbalanced teenager that had research interests, so I was deep in the DA section of the library* by the time I was thirteen. So most of the background content I had going in. If I ever were to write about lumberjacks or samurai or galley slaves, I’d have to do a lot more research up front. But as long as I’m in the medieval or early-modern British Isles, I’m off to the races.

Basically I write along until I encounter a detail I either 1) don’t know or 2) am not sure of. Then I make an educated guess and put the affected content in [brackets] and look it all up at the end (or when I’m stuck and need to justify taking a break, whichever comes first).

What sorts of decisions have you had to make about “muddy” historical figures or events in order for your book to work?

One of the most significant challenges for W/J was a scarcity of pre-rebellion primary source material concerning Edwardian planted towns, since a lot of the records kept by English authorities in Caernarvon were lost in the rebellion itself. The rebels were aiming for the tax records, but everything else went up too. (There’s a lot of stuff on the castles and the minutiae their construction, but not on the towns themselves, although since W/J came out, this book was published.)

I had to approach the problem creatively, researching other towns founded by Edward I in other places, general medieval urban culture, and the North Wales planted towns in later ages when the records are better. When you’re a writer of historical fiction, you’re part garbage collector, part treasure hunter, part psychologist and part microfilm wrestler.

Why is historical fiction important?

I’m not sure how it’s important in a cosmic sense, but here’s why it’s important to me.

There are budding teenage history geeks out there, and I want to be on the front lines of handing them books that let them know they’re correct that history is in fact awesome. And that they’re not alone in thinking so.

There are kids who don’t think much of history because all they’ve ever had to judge it by is “social studies.” I want to hand them real stories about real people who feel familiar, who have the capacity to be cruel and kind and stupid and thoughtful and loving and vindictive just like we all do.

There are kids who might like history if it was more real. Or maybe it’s not so much that I want kids to like history, but to understand that it’s not as foreign or irrelevant as they think. I can’t unindoctrinate them, but I can hand them a story that doesn’t pull any punches, that presents the past in all its corrupt, seamy glory, and let them decide for themselves.

How do you conduct your research?

I research iteratively, and I love to compile.

Mostly I use books and articles (it’s rare I find a good online resource), and I record all my research notes on the back sides of sheets of recycle paper I scavenge out of the bin. I write the title of the research book I’m working with at the top and number the sheets as I need to. Each book gets its own set of note-pages.

I go through books chapter by chapter and jot down individual pieces of evidence followed by its page number. For articles, I underline and annotate in the margins. If there are images, maps, charts or graphs, they get scanned/copied and the bibliographic information logged at the top.

After I work on a topic for a while, I’m able to compile my evidence into charts and tables or timelines for quick reference. I’m a big fan of spreadsheets, and I’m especially fond of my spreadsheet o’ swears. It cross-references rude, vulgar, and otherwise unsavory terms; when each one came into the language, its context, terms that are similar and/or related, and how it changed over time.

F’r instance, if I need someone to insult someone else’s parentage, I just need to look up a term I know was used and I’ll get all the rest, plus some idea whether it’s appropriate for the era. My other spreadsheets work this way too, but this is the one I use the most.

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching?

Medieval people were really pretty raunchy. A lot of people in the modern era have this impression that medieval people were straight-laced and humorless, either because their lives were hard or because religion played a central role in their world. This really isn’t true. They had a deep and abiding love of poop and fart jokes, and they adored what we would call slapstick humor. If people were getting hurt, they thought it was hilarious. Medieval people were also fans of wordplay, especially the double-entendre. They could make dirty puns like you wouldn’t believe.

* History. Particularly medieval history. Particularly medieval Welsh history.

The post Straight From the Source: J. Anderson Coats on Writing Historical Fiction appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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And to conclude Monster Week '14, here's some preliminary art from my upcoming picture book, MARILYN'S MONSTER by the great Michelle Knudsen and published by the extraordinary Candlewick Press. Coming to a bookstore near you in MARCH 2015!


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10. Vampire Etiquette

Vampires in the movies
Seem to very neatly suck.
If blood is to be seen, it’s on
The necks of those they’ve struck.

Yet every costumed Dracula
Has “blood” dripped on his face,
A situation vampires would
Perceive as a disgrace.

Tonight, as the undead come out
To honor Halloween,
Observe their faces – not a one
Will be blood-free and clean!

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11. Poetry Friday: Alexander Throckmorton

In youth my wings were strong and tireless,
But I did not know the mountains.
In age I knew the mountains
But my weary wings could not follow my vision-
Genius is wisdom and youth.

- Alexander Throckmorton in Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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12. My Monster Mama Loves Me So - a book review

Quotes to make you smile:

Today's featured book:

Title:   My Monster Mama Loves Me So
Author:  Laura Leuck
Illustrator:  Mark Buehner
Ages:  4-7

Short peek inside today:

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13. Software for a book containing artwork

Hi everyone, I am just beginning to write an astrology book and I want to have lots of pics etc. in it. Is there a free software program available to

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14. Sharecropper’s Troubadour: songs and stories from the 2014 OHA Annual Meeting

OHA2014 Header The 2014 Oral History Association Annual Meeting featured an exciting musical plenary session led by Michael Honey and Pat Krueger. They presented the songs and stories of John Handcox, the “poet laureate” of the interracial Southern Tenant Farmers Union, linking generations of struggle in the South through African American song and oral poetry traditions. The presentation built on Dr. Honey’s article in Oral History Review 41.2, “’Sharecroppers’ Troubadour': Can We Use Songs and Oral Poetry as Oral History?,” as well as his recent book.

The audio below was graciously recorded and provided by the faculty of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Image credits: Oral History Association Annual Meeting flyer courtesy of the Oral History Association. Michael Honey headshot courtesy of Michael Honey.

The post Sharecropper’s Troubadour: songs and stories from the 2014 OHA Annual Meeting appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Rio de Janeiro: ATREVIDA – Revisão crítica da exposição artevida

Organizada em quatro seções – corpo, política, arquivo, parque - a exposição artevida, com curadoria de Adriano Pedrosa e Rodrigo Moura, incluiu uma grande quantidade e qualidade de trabalhos vindos dos recônditos do globo, com a ambição de “desenvolver conexões e leituras a partir de certas práticas artísticas do período [final dos anos 50 ao início dos anos 80], mediante diferentes conceitos, referências e enquadramentos além dos eurocêntricos”, resume o folheto da exposição.

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16. My tweets

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17. 10 Places I Want to Visit After Reading About Them in a Book

By Kit #1. Outer Space - Across the Universe by Beth Revis Because it's outer space.  And I want to be immersed in stars.  And Beth Revis' descriptions of the stars were phenomenal.  #2. Paris - Die for Me by Amy Plum and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins I mean come on.  It's Paris.  But both of these books did such a fantastic job describing Paris in a way that was

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18. Dynamic Weekend in Venice - Lunch at Aman Canal Grande, Peace at Palazzo Ducale, Pianist Prizes at La Fenice

Cat Bauer at Aman Canal Grande
(Venice, Italy) The Aman Canal Grande, where George and Amal Clooney were married, would like you to know that you are very welcome to come in for lunch, drinks or dinner. I had heard some local gossip -- that Palazzo Papadopoli was only open to guests of the hotel; that the food was not up to par, etc. That was not the situation when I had visited in August of last year when I featured the Aman Canal Grande in CNN Travel. So when a friend recently expressed an interest in seeing the fabulous palace, I made arrangements for a tour and lunch on Monday so I could see firsthand what the situation was. I am pleased to report that the food was exceptional  -- fresh, delicious and reasonably priced, and the palace was as welcoming as I remembered, elegant and homey.

At the close of the 19th century, Vera Papadopoli Aldobrandini married Count Giberto Arrivabene, with Palazzo Papadopoli as part of her dowry. Today, the palazzo is owned by her grandson, Count Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga; he and his wife, Bianca di Savoia Aosta, and kids still live on the top floor.

Alcova Tiepolo Suite - Aman Canal Grande
We were graciously showed around the palace, which was originally built in 1550 by the architect and follower of Sansovino, Gian Giacomo de Grigi, as commissioned by the Coccina Family. The palazzo was sold to the Tiepolo family in 1718 after the death of Francesco Coccina, the last descendant. The Tiepolos were avid art collectors, and also employed the painter Giambattista Tiepolo to decorate rooms with frescoes, which still remain to this day. (Of course, I had to know if the Clooneys had stayed in the famous Tiepolo Suite, which is complete with a genuine Giambattista Tiepolo ceiling, and the answer was: Yes, they did.)

Yellow Dining Room - Aman Canal Grande
There are two piano nobile floors, and one rumor could have started because the fourth level of the palazzo is reserved only for hotel guests. But the public is absolutely welcome to enjoy the dining rooms and bar in the first piano nobile with stunning views of the Grand Canal. Also, there is a new chef from the oldest Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy, so any kitchen concerns have been addressed. My friend and I each ordered the most expensive thing on the menu (€35), grilled fish -- a sea bass and a sole -- which were grilled to perfection and shared for us at the table, and accompanied by a generous assortment of grilled vegetables. There are not many places in Venice on the San Polo side of town where you can have a reasonably-priced lunch in such magnificent surroundings, so don't be shy -- just ring the bell and go on in!

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 14 false false false IT X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->
1760, marzo 15. Venezia.
Francesco Loredan, doge di Venezia, rilascia la commissionea Giovanni Domenico Almorò Tiepolo, eletto ambasciatore ordinario a Luigi XV re di Francia.
There is an incredible exhibition over at Palazzo Ducale entitled FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE - The Long Walk from the Peace of Bologna to the Declaration of Human Rights (1530-1789). Dario Franceschini, the Italian Minister of Culture, and Gianpaolo Scarante, the Italian Ambassador to Turkey, were among the luminaries present at the inauguration on October 25th. On show are about 70 documents that illustrate that the quest for peace is the supreme value of European culture.

I have known Alessandra Schiavon of the Archivio di Stato di Venezia for about 15 years, back from the time I first visited the immense Archives next to the Frari when I was writing for the International Herald Tribune's Italy Daily. It was deeply moving to see how hard she had worked to gather such pivotal documents together to illustrate the value Europe places on peace. Schiavon said it used to be that wars had beginnings, and wars had ends, and wars had specific territories -- not like today when we find ourselves constantly at war with enemies who have no borders, in wars against a concept like "terror," in wars that stretch on without limits. Ambassadors and diplomats worked hard for peace -- that was their occupation. (That image above is a March 15, 1760 document issued by Francesco Loredan, the Doge of Venice, commissioning one of those wealthy Tiepolos -- Giovanni Domenico Almorò Tiepolo -- to be the ambassador to Louis XV, King of France.)

1641, 24 gennaio-2 febbraio. Costantinopoli.
Capitolationi rinovate sotto sultan Ibraim, re al presente degli Ottomani.
Archivio di Stato di Venezia
The documents and names involved are riveting, and the captions have been translated into English. Some examples: January 5, 1530: "Emperor Charles V solemly ratifies the peace treaty concluded during the Congress of Bolona with the Pope and the rulers of Europe." March 5, 1684: "The plenipotentiary ministers of Pope Innocent XI, the Hapsburg Emperor Leopold I, King of Poland, John III Sobieski, Doge of Venice, Marc Antonio Giustinian sign a defense treaty." February 8, 1697, "Peter the Great, the Czar of Russia, Leopold I, the Hapsburg Emperor, Frederick Augustus II of Saxony and Silvestro Valier, Doge of Venice stipulate a reciprocal non-aggression and peace accord."

                                                                         1755, marzo 14. Vienna.
Maria Teresa imperatrice e Francesco Loredan doge di Venezia stipulano accordi in materia di confini e servizio postale.
Archivio di Stato di Venezia
Wars over territories. Wars between religions. One side groups up against another side, changes sides, changes back again. After viewing all those documents inside the Doge's Palace, and the many powers behind those documents, and the very serious disagreements and battles that had been hammered into compromises to achieve peace, it really made me wonder why we are having such a difficult time today just getting a moment to catch our breath.

Per il bene della Pace
Il lungo cammino verso l’Europa dalla pace di Bologna alla Dichiarazione dei diritti dell’uomo (1530-1789)
Venezia, Palazzo Ducale, Sala dello Scrutinio
25 ottobre 2014 – 12 gennaio 2015
Alesandro Marchetti - winner Premio Venezia
One of my favorite annual events is the PREMIO VENEZIA, a national pianist competition held by the Fondazione Amici Della Fenice at La Fenice. Every year, young pianists throughout Italy compete for the top prize, which includes substantial sums of money to continue their studies, as well as concerts in prestigious venues. The Premio Venezia is funded entirely with private money, and is one of the most important events of the season, always drawing a full-house invitation-only crowd. This year the Premio Venezia was won by Alessandro Marchetti, who was born in Pavia, Italy in 1998, the year I arrived in Venice, which makes him, astonishingly, only 16-years-old. Adrian Nicodim, who was born in Galati, Romania in 1992, won second place, which also includes a good chunk of money and concerts. Both young men exhibited composure, grace and talent, and performed admirably.

In a planet filled with chaos and strife, it is an honor to have the privilege of living in La Serenissima, a city that still focuses on the highest principles the civilized world has to offer.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

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19. You’re Not Alone: NaNoWriMo Experts Share Their Stories & Experiences

We are only hours away from the month of November, which means many writers will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Whether you’re a veteran or a rookie at NaNoWriMo, tackling the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month is just a tad bit intimidating.

That’s why Writer’s Digest has brought together some NaNoWriMo experts who will be joining you in your quest this November. From a variety of different backgrounds and writing styles and genres, these folks are all attempting to write 50,000 words and will be reporting in on their progress twice per week. Currently, they’ve taken time out of their busy writing schedules to introduce themselves below. After you read their bios, be sure to check back in every Monday and Thursday during November for a progress update from our writers. They’ll have tips and thoughts on tackling stumbling blocks, hitting your goal, and more, throughout NaNoWriMo.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let us know! Give us your own bio and progress reports in the comments section!

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Jonathan WoodNatania Barron and Jonathan Wood are, most of the time, speculative fiction writers. They share common affinity for video games, RPGs, action films, and caffeinated beverages. The rest of their lives is something of a study in contrast. Natania is a four-time participator, a two-time NaNoWriMo winner, while Jonathan’s never been daft enough to try it. Jonathan prefers an outline and a great deal of planning when writing novels. Natania prefers the “win and wait” model.

Natania BarronWhen it comes to influence, Natania often cites George R.R. Martin, but Jonathan “just doesn’t get those books”; Jonathan quite enjoys Robert Jordan, but Natania’s quite certain they’re best used as doorstops. While they’ve both published (separately) in Weird Tales and, collectively, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, Jonathan’s known for his No Hero Series, published by Titan Books, which includes the tagline, “What Would Kurt Russell Do?” Natania’s debut novel, Pilgrim of the Sky, had floating mansions, parallel worlds, and absolutely no sign of Mr. Russell. Either way, they’re hoping to cobble together a weird fantasy novel, or at least the bare bones of one, during NaNoWriMo 2014.

They will be chronicling this mad collaboration at their blog, Two Brain Space.

Rachael Herron

Rachael Herron is a NaNo success story: NaNoWriMo 2006 was her first NaNo attempt, her first win, and thatbook turned into her first published novel. She is the internationally bestselling author of the novel Pack Up the Moon, the Cypress Hollow series, and the memoir, A Life in Stitches. Her next mainstream standalone, Splinters of Light, will be out in March 2015 from Penguin.

She teaches people how to stop sabotaging their own writing practices, and can’t wait for this year’s NaNo, in which she’ll start her 2016 release. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, and when she’s not busy writing, she’s a 911 fire/medical dispatcher for a Bay Area fire department.

Rachael is struggling to learn the accordion and can probably play along with you on the ukulele. She’s a New Zealander as well as an American, and she’s been actively blogging since 2002.

Nikki HysonNikki Hyson writes modern fantasy with a classical twist. Currently unpublished, she’s in the process of querying agents while she second drafts a sequel. An avid support of NaNoWriMo, this will be her fifth year of literary abandon (and hopefully a 5th win). Also, for the past 2 years, she’s participated in Camp NaNo.

A confirmed “pantser,” she generally lets a question seed itself in her subconscious, germinating for weeks to determine if it has the goods to sprout. Usually, she’s just as surprised by her endings as any reader. Never satisfied with writing by accident, she loves “how-to-write” books. Some of her most used are: Tell Me (How to Write) a Story by EJ Runyon, On Writing by Stephen King, Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, and No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty.

You can visit Nikki at her Facebook page.

November/December 2014 Writer's Digest


The November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest
is loaded with advice, tips, and strategies
to help you survive—and thrive—during NaNoWriMo.

Regina Kammer HeadshotRegina Kammer writes historical, contemporary, and Steampunk erotica and erotic romance. Her short storiesand novels have been published by Cleis Press, Go Deeper Press, Ellora’s Cave, House of Erotica, and her own imprint, Viridum Press. She began writing historical fiction with romantic elements during NaNoWriMo 2006, switching to historical erotica when all her characters suddenly demanded to have sex.

Regina has done—and won—NaNoWriMo eight times and has published four of those novels (with a fifth in her publisher’s editing queue): the Amazon best-selling Victorian erotic romances The Pleasure Device and Disobedience by Design; the award-nominated erotic romance The General’s Wife: An American Revolutionary Tale; and the erotic epic Hadrian and Sabina: A Love Story.

Regina approaches NaNoWriMo with an outline leaving enough room for character flights of fancy. She frequently gets lost in Thesaurus.com, the OED online, or historical clothing websites wondering what her characters are wearing before she can get them naked.

You can visit Regina at kammerotica.com, follow her on Twitter @Kammerotica, and like her on Facebook.

Kathy KittsKathy Kitts (AKA Apollo16) is a retired geology professor who served on the science team for NASA’s Genesis Mission. She had dozens of nonfiction publications, from professional papers to textbooks, but is no longer interested in “what is,” but rather, “what if.” Her latest publications include short literary fiction (Storyteller’s Anthology) and speculative fiction (Ad Astraas K. Eisert, and Mad Scientist, as K. Kitts). For more links and NaNoWriMo related goodies, visit her website.

She’s been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2003 and has volunteered as an ML, ML Mentor, Moderator, and site debugger. In 2014, she’s going for her 12th win. She’s done NaNo as a “pantser” and a “plotter.” Knowing what to write next is helpful, but Kathy enjoys the energy of making-it-up as she goes, too. Recently, she’s outlined one third of the novel, written like mad, yanked the gems from that section to plot the next third, then rinsed and repeated. It’s saved her a lot of time during revision.


Headshot_Tiffany LuckeyTiffany Luckey is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest whose freelance work has been published in Cincinnati magazine, Quill and on the entertainment website Starpulse.com. She’s also the founder of the humor/TV site AnotherTVBlog.com. Tiffany has participated in NaNoWriMo only once before three years ago (and has lived to tell about it!), and she’s eager to do a modified version of it this year by penning a series of short stories in November. Her favorite types of books are suspense and thriller novels, and her favorite writing-related website (besides WritersDigest.com, of course) is JungleRedWriters.com. Some fun random facts about Tiffany: She loves watching horror TV shows, but not horror movies; she has an unhealthy obsession with handbags and chocolate; if she could be anybody in the world, past or present, it would be 1990s’ Janet Jackson; the cheetah is her spirit animal; and she listens to trickling water sounds via YouTube when she writes.  

Kristen RuddKristen Rudd lives in Cary, NC, and is a homeschool mom by day. By night, she’s exhausted. She lovesNaNoWriMo. Loves it. This is her 8th year participating and her 4th as an ML (Municipal Liaison). She’s won four times.

Kristen writes YA and adult fiction, and has one complete, will-never-see-the-light-of-day novel and a whole passel of unfinished ones. Pretty much everyone in her life has told her to just finally finish something already, so she’s rebelling this year to work on something already in progress.

Somewhere in between a planner and a pantser, Kristen starts outlining her story, then November hits, so she panics for a little while and dives right in. Mostly, she tries to hit word count and then set up a few scenes for the next day.

A few of her favorite YA authors are Kristin Cashore, Patrick Ness, Maggie Stiefvater, and Melina Marchetta. She’s also a big fan of Rob Kroese and Wayne Franklin. You can visit her at kristenrudd.com.

EJ RunyonNaNoWriMo’s been very good to EJ Runyon. She began in 2001, and in 2006 she quit Software, sold her house, and went back to University. Now it’s writing and coaching daily. It’s her life and she loves it.

NaNoWriMo set her on the path to writer’s nirvana. In 2012, six short stories pulled from various NaNo novels became part of Claiming One, from Inspired Quill (UK). Then, in 2013, her ’08 NaNo became Tell Me (How to Write) A Story, a writer’s guide. This year, ’03 NaNo’s became a debut novel, A House of Light & Stone.

She’s a Scrivener pantser all the way, and even created a jumpstart template for coaching clients. Cheeky, she suggests her writing site, Bridge to Story, for 52 free lessons.

It’s been everything wonderful you’d possibly dream. 2016 & 2017 will see another how-to and a novel. She alternates literary fiction with how-to guides.

Wordspeed, WriMos!

Jessica-SchleyJessica Schley is a former book publishing company peon turned grad student, bookseller, and contemporary YA writer. Though her freelance writing has all been nonfiction and runs the gamut from bible studies to test prep materials, her fiction is all about the craziness of real life of being a teen. Now that she’s almost finished with grad school, you can find her hanging out on Twitter and on the boards at Absolute Write.

When it comes to creating, especially creating fast, she’s always a bit of a “gardener,” to borrow George R.R. Martin’s wonderful analogy, but lately has discovered her books benefit from a bit of an architectural hand, too. This NaNo, she’ll be trying both—a solid outline but with freedom to run another direction as needed to keep the words flowing. 2014 will be her 10th NaNoWriMo, in which she’ll be trying to defend a (very slightly) winning record. Here’s to 50,000!

You can visit Jessica at jessicaschley.com.

Brian SchwarzBrian Schwarz is an author/musician from Minneapolis, MN. Spending most of his young adult life touring in a modern rock band, he rarely had time for writing anything more than song lyrics, let alone novels as he had so aspired in grade school

In 2013 (finding he had time on his hands for the first time in ten years) he wrote his debut novel—Shades (view the trailer here)—a 120,000 word pre-apocalyptic thriller during NaNoWriMo. His book won the NaNoWriMo and Lulu sponsored Let’s Go Wrimos award, and was debuted at Book Expo America in NYC.

This will be his second year participating in NaNoWriMo, where he hopes to finish his next project, a Young Adult mystery with a science fiction tilt. He goes about his writing as haphazardly as he goes about his life, with a general idea of beginnings and endings—making the rest up as he goes.

Recently he’s been reading Veronica Roth, Gillian Flynn, and George R.R. Martin.

You can visit Brian at BrianRSchwarz.com.

*     *     *     *     *


Find the focus, energy, and drive you need to start—and finish—your book in a month. Write-A-Thon gives you the tools, advice, and inspiration you need to succeed before, during, and after your writing race. With solid instruction, positive psychology, and inspiration from marathon runners, you’ll get the momentum to take each step from here to the finish line. You’ll learn how to: train your attitude, writing, and life—and plan your novel or nonfiction book; maintain your pace; and find the best ways to recover and move forward once the writing marathon is finished and you have a completed manuscript in hand!

Cris Freese is the associate editor of Writer’s Digest Books. He has never participated in NaNoWriMo, but has contemplated it at the prodding of his co-workers and writing friends. Whether he actually decides to try to write a novel during the month of November 2014 remains to be seen.

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20. Night Creatures

Here's a gouache painting I did over 30 years ago when I was putting together a portfolio of science fiction samples. It has never been published before.

I imagine encountering these night creatures in a dark bar. I accidentally offend them by asking an innocent question about their feeding tentacles. I apologize, and they return to their drinks, the veins on their temples throbbing for a while.

That's my little treat for you on Halloween!

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21. Poetry Friday - Thriller Rap

As if I could post anything else today ...

Rap from Thriller
by Rod Temperton

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'all's neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller

If you have some time, here's the video of the song.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Linda Baie at Teacher Dance. Happy poetry Friday friends! And Happy Halloween!

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22. Halloween Reads & Taking the Horror out of Pitch Appointments

I have a confession to make. I don't think of myself as a scary book reader and, to the best of my knowledge, I've never (gulp) read Stephen King. I know, I know...

I have read Dean Koontz and loved Thomas Harris so its not like I've never ready a scary book. I just haven't read the King.

Recently I've been on a Chelsea Cain kick, as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows. And while she's not a horror writer those books are absolutely scary. In fact, I love dark books and I really love dark serial killer books. Years ago I had the absolute privilege of reading an edge-of-your seat manuscript that kept me turning pages well past closing time. The book was The Broken by Shelley Coriell.

I first met Shelley at an RWA National pitch appointment. It was one of the most memorable appointments I ever had. Shelley sat down across from me and announced that she already knew I was the agent she wanted, she just wanted to introduce herself so that I knew who she was. It was awesome. She finished up the appointment by handing me a recipe for her Blackberry Cobbler because she knew I loved to cook. Smart woman.

The minute I finished reading The Broken I knew I had to have it. I offered, Shelley said yes and together we determinedly set forth to find a publisher and bring that amazing book to readers. Sadly, we couldn't find an editor who agreed with us. Romantic suspense wasn't selling and while editors loved the book they just weren't convinced it was the right time. So Shelley decided to take a break from that and move on to writing something different. We parted ways. For a while.

A few years later I got a call from Shelley. She refused (thankfully) to let go of The Broken and since I was the agent who first handled it wanted to know if I wanted back on this wild ride. Of course I did! Within weeks (days really) we sold The Broken at auction to Grand Central.

The Broken published this past April and Shelley's second suspense, The Buried, published this week, just in time for Halloween. And these books are scary as sh**. I mean, they are amazing. So if you're looking for a great scary Halloween read, whether you think of yourself as a romantic suspense reader or not, these are the books you need to pick up.

And Shelley, feel free to correct me on any of this story. It's possible I embellished to make myself look good.


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24. My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck - Murray Library Story Time

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25. Two Hundred Years Later.

This Year Marks
200th Anniversary of the
Burning of the White House
"Struggling to Stand"
Copyright  (c) 2008 by Wendell Minor
In August of 1814, during the War of 1812, British troops marched into our nation's capital and set fire to the White House. In the NCBLA's  award-winning anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, young people can learn not only about the building of the White House, but also why it burned in 1814 through its incomparable collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, poetry, and  stunning array of original art
Engage young people in the following War of 1812 content in Our White House:
  • Wendell Minor's stunning illustration "Struggling to Stand"
  • Ralph Ketcham's enlightening essay regarding the days and events preceding the War of 1812 in "The White House Prepares for War: 1812"
  • Susan Cooper's poignant, imagined letter written by a British soldier to his parents about the burning of the White House titled "The Burning of the White House"
  • Don Brown's story of Dolley Madison in "Dolley Madison Rescues George Washington"
  • An excerpt from the 1865 memoir of Paul Jennings, a former slave who worked in the Madison White House, titled "The First White House Memoir: 1865"

Also check out the exclusive articles and education resources available on the companion website OurWhiteHouse.org, such as: 
"Primary Sources: Dolley Madison's Letter to Her Sister About the Burning of the White House

"Star Spangled Presidents" by Helen Kampion

"Presidential Fact Files" and "First Lady Fact Files

 Our White House is available
in both hardcover and paperback from Candlewick Press.
Ask for it at a library or bookstore near you!

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