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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, dated 11/9/2012 [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 140
1. First day of the Greg Manchess Workshop -

 Had a fabulous first day at my workshop with Greg Manchess -

You can read the full report about it here.

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2. Amos Oz profile

       In The Independent Boyd Tonkin has a profile of Amos Oz.

       See also the Amos Oz titles under review at the complete review -- with one to follow for Jews and Words soon (for now, see the Yale University Press publicity page).

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3. Jeanette Winterson on money

       In The Telegraph: 'Writer Jeanette Winterson ponders the role of money -- and its absence -- in her life and career', in Jeanette Winterson: money and me.

       See also many of the Jeanette Winterson titles under review at the complete review.

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4. Physical Attributes Thesaurus Entry: Eyes

Courtesy of ismellsheep, WANA Commons
Physical description of a character can be difficult to convey—too much will slow the pace or feel 'list-like', while too little will not allow readers to form a clear mental image. If a reader cannot imagine what your character looks like, they may have trouble connecting with them on a personal level, or caring about their plight. 

One way to balance the showing and telling of physical description is to showcase a few details that really help 'tell the story' about who your character is and what they've been through up to this point. Think about what makes them different and interesting. Can a unique feature, clothing choice or way they carry themselves help to hint at their personality? Also, consider how they move their body. Using movement will naturally show a character's physical characteristics, keep the pace flowing and help to convey their emotions.


Descriptors: shades of blue, brown, green, gray, and hazel; almond-shaped, round, big, piggish, squinty, narrowed, close-set, far apart, glassy, feverish, watery, pink-rimmed, bright, dull, dancing, sparkling, speckled, laughing, smoldering, vapid, empty, dead, blind, far-sighted, near-sighted, cloudy, milky, protuberant, deep-set, sunken, blackened, bloodshot, dazed, hard, cold, limpid, dry, scratchy, yellowed, jaundiced, sharp, intelligent, gentle, kind, monochromatic, lazy, icy

Things Eyes Do (and other words/phrases to describe those actions)
  • Look: see, watch, glance, gaze, glimpse, notice, observe, peek, stare, view, take in
  • Move: roll, shift, narrow, blink, bat, wink, close, open, widen, dilate, dart, follow
  • Cry: leak, tear up, fill, water, overflow, glisten, drip, pour

Key Emotions and Related Eye Gestures: 
  • Sadness: cry, grow dull, close, tear up, lose focus, grow distant
  • Anger: narrow, sharpen, grow cold, harden, increase in intensity, snap or spark, glower, stare, glare
  • Joy: brighten, sparkle, tear up, laugh
  • Fear: widen, dilate, squeeze shut, jump, dart, stare, stop blinking, dry out

Simile and Metaphor Help:                         
  • Without my glasses, I was as blind and vulnerable as a just-born squirrel.
  • I met his gaze and wished I hadn't. His ball-bearing eyes were small and black and inhuman. If he blinked, they'd drop out of their sockets and bounce across the floor, and the loss wouldn't deter him in the least.

Clichés to Avoid: bedroom eyes; eyes that pierce or look through you; eyes being the window to the soul; doe eyes; eyes as big as saucers; eyes that shoot daggers; sunken eyes that make one's head look like a skull; blind as a bat

HINT: When describing any part of the body, try to use cues that show the reader more than just a physical description. Make your descriptions do double duty. Example: Principal Miller was short and squat with too-long arms. Between classes, he slouched into the hallway and watched us with his bulging eyes, waiting for someone to screw up so he could pounce. "Frog" was the obvious nickname, but he wasn't nearly so smart. We called him Slug.

BONUS TIP: The Colors, Textures & Shapes Thesaurus in our sidebar might help you find a fresh take on some of the descriptors listed above! 

11 Comments on Physical Attributes Thesaurus Entry: Eyes, last added: 11/18/2012
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5. Write a Chicano novel in a month?

by Rudy Ch. Garcia

November 2012.

I’m not in Denver, again. In Houston, again, but this time for a family wedding and no readings for the novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams.

But I’ve embarked on what I call my 9th life. Some of the priors resemble how this one will play out, but this may prove enjoyable in ways the others only touched. Seven of the others will wait for explanations another time.

Public school education, my eighth life, and I will probably part ways, permanently. The administrators will not miss me. The kids would be a different story. I’ll still do volunteer work and maybe some work as a substitute, but I’m one more casualty of a country of school systems gone bad-to-worse.

Ninth life: full-time writer

It’s appropriate to begin the 9th in what some call NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. As one site explains it, “The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approx. 175 pp.) novel by midnight Nov. 30. In 2011, we had 256,618 participants and 36,843 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the deadline.”

Years ago I attempted to write the original draft of my Chicano fantasy novel in a month--although it wound up taking forty-five days--of about 60k words. Years of revision followed.

This time should be more fruitful, based on the premise that I am a much more savvy writer now. As of Nov. 9 I’ve completed 10k words. However this 10k is vastly improved from the first 10k I did years ago.

My process is relatively simple:
  • Up at 5:30 or so, read the paper, check Email, sip two—only two cups of coffee, begin writing.
  • Breaks every 60-90 min. away from the computer. Return to writing. This is fairly new for me. Before this year I would work without leaving the den or the keyboard, work until the brain was fried and restart the next morning. Brain-science readings have added taking these breaks to revive my thinking. Also new, frequent rehydration, a glass of water, or so.

At the MileHiCon, the KOP series novelist Warren Hammondexplained his method of writing. What I took from him and have implemented this month is to begin each day not where I left off before, but instead somewhere earlier, even on page one. This is radically different from my composing, but I’m driven by Warren’s explanation that doing his novels in this manner means that once he reaches the last page, he is essentially finished with final revisions. Vamos a ver.

As for the subject of my November work, from lessons learned in my summer posts on latinos and sci-fi, Spic vs Spec, as well as discussions with Jim Fiscus of SFFWA, Paolo Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl) and editors and publishers. I concluded that composing a young adult dark fantasy with Chicano protagonists should be my final work for the year.

It’s likewise fitting to finish my best year ever (5 published works, with two months remaining) by entering a field that begs for mas y mas y mas spec lit for Chicano boys. It would be a great finish of my teaching years, to give back to kids something they need more than a new standardized test.

As I said earlier, I’m on about page 40 of the new work and already recognize that if you liked/loved The Closet of Discarded Dreams, you’re going to love/bust a gut from reading the next installment. It is a prequel, not a sequel. What happened to The Chicano and Chrisie “the Bruiser” Falcón before The Closet of Discarded Dreams.

This is all for today; I’m tired. Pocho Joe of KUVO-fm radio and novelist Manuel Ramos stopped by yesterday and tricked me into drinking mucho. They actually left early for me to complete my Friday intoxication, solo, but I still blame them.

I’m in Houston, it’s humid, in the 70s, smoggy, while Denver’s prepping for some freeze and snow. I brought the MacBook and am having a chingón time with the prequel. Wish you were here to read some of this draft, but I guess that will have to wait for an editor to show up first.

Suerte in your Nov. writing and the rest of the time, too,

Author of the Chicano fantasy novel The Closet of Discarded Dreams

Last minute: Arizona comes to Colorado 

On our way to the airport we passed an RTD bus, the regional mass transit most gente use to get around. The huge sign on the side caught my eye:

"It's not Islamophobia, it's Islamorealism."

It's not stirred enough local controversy yet, but placement of the ads has been upheld  in court elsewhere.

The ads were intended to hit the Obama campaign in swing states and obviously didn't work. If you sympathize with those of another religion and want to do something about these ads, you might want to vote against the type of judges who uphold the right to spread racist hate propaganda. And let RTD know your views. Before the whole state gets Arizonaed.

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6. Finding Time To Write - Tamsyn Murray

You know how it is - the dog needs walking, emails are beckoning and the kids insist on being fed. The last thing you have time for is writing. But your story is looking for a way out, like a velociraptor testing the fences, and keeping it locked inside makes you cranky. How do you find a way to balance the unreasonable demands of real life with the need to set your story free?

For me, it was all about priorities. When I was writing my first book, I got up at five-thirty every morning to write before work, and sat down at my computer almost as soon as I got home. I didn't cook, I didn't watch TV and I certainly didn't do housework. I was completely selfish. Ian Rankin's wife has recently said that he almost reverts to his student days when he's working on a novel and I can understand why. The problem is that most of us can't be that self-indulgent; babies get really cranky if you ignore them, I've found.

My baby is one year old today. In the past year, I've suffered from the kind of sleep-deprivation that torture specialists can only dream of. I've had zero time to write. And yet, I've still produced five books. My secret once again was prioritising - instead of slumping in front of the TV at the end of the day, I spent every non-baby filled moment writing. I did my best to ignore the dirty dishes. Slowly, the stories reached their endings, because it was important to me that they did.

So the next time you think you don't have time to write, remind yourself that writing is important to you and snatch back as much time as you can to devote to it. Reality will always be there waiting once you've finished.  And if you're really lucky, someone else will have walked the dog.

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7. illustration friday - tree

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8. Big Sur December 2012

The best time of year swiftly approaches - the time for the Big Sur Children's Writer's Workshop! And guess what? There are still a few places available Nov 30-Dec 2.

This conference is truly amazing. First of all, the location is just stunning - in a redwood forest, on cliffs above the Pacific, surrounded by nature... It's a retreat from the distractions of everyday life that allows writers to really focus on getting deep into their manuscripts and doing that hard work that will take them to the next level. It is a combo of small critique groups led by stellar faculty (editors, agents, award-winning writers), plus time to actually REVISE based on the feedback. And the high faculty-to-writer ratio plus casual and family-like atmosphere means you'll get plenty of time to hang out with editors and agents and writers without feeling "on the spot" or nervous.

It sounds cliche but it is true: I've seen miracles at this conference. The difference in work from the first workshop on Friday to the last on Sunday can be truly astonishing. I just can't say enough good things about it. If you can join us this time around, you SHOULD!  Here's the registration page.

If you can't, do keep it on your radar, as we do this twice a year. March is in Monterey, December is in Big Sur. Hope to see you there!

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9. PiBoIdMo Day 10: Idea Mash-Up with Diana Murray

In 2009, I was humming the rejection blues when I spotted Tara’s post on Verla Kay’s Blueboards. PiBoIdMo sounded like just the sort of creative kick in the pants that I needed. And boy, am I glad I took up the challenge, because it started an exciting chain of events.

One of my ideas led to a picture book manuscript for which I was awarded the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant in 2010. I’m normally a pretty shy person, but after that, I would often catch myself singing “Zippity doo-da…” in public (much to the dismay of anyone within earshot).

When I emailed Tara to thank her, she invited me to share my story. Another exciting moment! And now, a few years and many revisions later, here I am with a sing-out-loud-worthy update. After signing with Brianne Johnson of Writers House, GRIMELDA, THE VERY MESSY WITCH—the manuscript I based on a 2009 PiBoIdMo idea—sold in a two-book deal to Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. Plus, another manuscript, NED THE KNITTING PIRATE: A SALTY YARN, sold to Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. Both are scheduled to be released in 2014. I hope my neighbors have industrial-strength ear plugs.

Speaking of singing, here’s a bit of inspiration to help you begin your own exciting chain of events.

If you’ve ever watched Glee, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the “mash-up”. This is when you take two different songs and smash them together to produce something new.


Bon Jovi and Usher? Who knew that could work?

And it can work with writing as well. The great thing about mash-ups is that they can give your story an immediate sense of conflict. And when you mix concepts that don’t normally go together, you can potentially create something unexpected and fresh. You can also create something really weird, like “Trucks at the Ballet” or “Pet Rock for President!”. But remember, one person’s weird is another person’s unique, funny, and/or intriguing. It’s all about execution (well, and also personal preference). In order to nail the execution, it helps if the idea is something you relate to. Something you connect with on a personal level. That will give you the passion you need to see it through.

By the way, when I posted on Tara’s blog in 2010, I mentioned one of my “bad” ideas about a do-everything hat. I believe it was called “Mabel’s Amazing Hat”. Well, I ended up giving that idea a sporty twist. The new title is “Automatic Baseball Hat” and I recently sold it as a poem to Highlights magazine. So you can even make your bad ideas work for you! And I’m not so sure there’s such a thing as a bad idea at all.

Now get out there and mash it up!

Diana Murray is a picture book author and poet represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House. She lives in New York City with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. For more information, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @DianaMWrites.

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Artie’s poem Ceiling to the Stars was published in the November print edition of California Kids! To read the poem online, please click on the illustration below.

Artie’s children’s story The Hummingbird Who Chewed Bubblegum is being published in a book collection by the Oxford University Press in India. More to come.


Use of any of the content on this website without permission is prohibited by federal law

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11. Illustration Friday~Tree

~Let's get ready to Rrrrrummmmmble....

I don't remember what the class assignment was for this piece. It may have simply been to do a black and white illustration, or to choose a style or a technique. I do remember thinking that I wanted to combine my enjoyment for drawing trees along with my fondness of boxing. I remember visualizing a huge tree stump, and thinking I would like to have the two trees fighting on it, while all the other trees observed the match, maybe taking a few side bets.

Boxing is the only sport I really like and I usually get two different reactions to this. A man's reaction is--really? And somewhat amused. A women reaction is--why? And somewhat perplexed, with a hint of disgust.
Disclaimer--This is just one women's opinion on sports

Growing up in an apartment that consisted solely of my father and one of my brothers, sports were on TV constantly! I knew the season more by the sport than I did the changing of the weather. God help me all those Sundays filled with golf! Boring! And so very quiet, "Shh he's putting" How about basketball... okay, run back and forth and try to get a ball in a hoop! Boring again. Oh yes, let's not forget football. Gotta love it, sit around the TV and everyone swears--a lot! Then there's baseball-- I guess that was okay. I really only liked watching my brothers play it though. I even played for a short period of time, and I was always stuck in right field! Not too much action there. But boxing...now that's a sport! There's nothing like watching a good bout! You've got technique, action, blood, and excitement! I know a lot about boxing, I know all the terms and how the judges score if it comes down to a decision, if they're being fair that is. I use to know many of the players along the way, but no so much anymore.

Memories of Dad

Now and then I'll flip through the stations and a fight will be on and I automatically stop. Sometimes I think my dad's channeling through me. Sometimes I just like watching because it reminds me of him. Memories flood me of my dad explaining things like, reach, and jab, and uppercut, or being a southpaw. He taught me what a KO meant verses a TKO. I remember when Cashis Clay changed his name. When he was stripped of his title for being a draft dodger. I remember the fights with Joe Frazier. I wanted Frazier to win, I didn't like Ali as a kid. I thought he was too much of a show off. I didn't understand that it was all a gimmick. Now I think Ali is just wonderful.

And somethings just don't change

A couple of months ago I was doing my usual flipping through stations, when I came upon Julio Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez, so Annie and I watched all the back stories on these two opponents. I wanted to see that fight sobad. Apparently Martinez was going to attempt to regain his middleweight title. I instantly fell in love with Martinez and hoped for victory on his part. Unfortunately the HBO pay-per-view price was way more than I could even justify. The first thing the next morning I went online to happily discover that Sergio had in fact won back the title! YAY! ...Anyway that's my write up on trees, hope you enjoyed it :)

Isn't he adorable!


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12. Where to Find Me (in Rochester and at NCTE2012!)

November is a busy month for me, but a great one as far as book events. On Saturday, I’ll be here…

…at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival at MCC.  If you live in Western NY, I’d love to see you there. It’s an amazing event full of book energy, and if you love books, you’ll love it here as much as I do.

Next week, I’m heading west to NCTE 2012 in Las Vegas. Here’s my schedule of events there:

Friday, November 16                 

3 – 4pm     Signing EYE OF THE STORM at Walker/Bloomsbury-  Booth #501

Saturday, November 17

8 – 9:15am  Author Strand: Mentors, Models, Ideas, and Dreams – MGM Grand Ballroom Room 121, Level One

9:30–10:30  Signing OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW and SEA MONSTER’S FIRST DAY at Chronicle Books – Booth #334

11am – 12pm   Signing REAL REVISION at Stenhouse Booth #721

12:30 – 2:30pm   Books for Children Luncheon – Premier Ballroom Room 318/319/320, Level 3   

3 – 4pm  Signing advance copies of HIDE AND SEEK (sequel to CAPTURE THE FLAG) at Scholastic - Booth # 200

Sunday, November 18

9 – 11:30am    Scholastic Literary Brunch

1 – 4pm   NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts – MGM Grand Ballroom Room 117, Level One

5:30 – 7:30pm    ALAN Cocktail Reception -  MGM Grand Ballroom 121-123, Level 1

Tuesday, November 20

2:40pm – 3:40pm    ALAN Author Breakout #5, Creating Ripples: Writing for Kids in the Middle

MGM Grand Premier Ballroom Room 309 – 311, Level 3                                     

Speakers: Kate Messner, Blue Balliett, Jody Feldman, Rebecca Stead, Jo Knowles                                

If you’re in Rochester on Saturday…or at NCTE next week, please stop by and say hello!


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13. Montclair Kimberley Academy Scholastic Book Fair

Earlier this week, I attended the biggest Scholastic Book Fair in the country – absolute heaven for a book geek like me!

This is just part of the set-up at the amazing Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey, which is celebrating its 125th birthday this year. There were SO many books, and Scholastic brought in authors to speak to the students each day. I was one of the featured presenters, along with Trent Reedy, Lisa McMann, Loren Long, Matthew Reinhart, and Dav Pilkey.

Because this whole part of New Jersey was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, I wondered for a while if this scheduled event would happen, but the Scholastic folks assured me that the school had power, even though most of the families’ homes did not, and the book fair would be a welcome break from storm clean up.  I knew there were lots of people in this area who couldn’t even think of getting to a book fair, though, so I checked with a Newark Red Cross shelter to see if they could use some books and things for the kids. They said yes – and told me they sure could use some socks and sanitary napkins, too -  so I loaded up my suitcase with books and notebooks…

…then stopped at the store to buy sanitary napkins and lots and lots of socks on my way to the airport. I can only imagine what the TSA inspectors thought of my stuffed-to-bulging bag full of books, socks, and feminine supplies. I had the chance to drop it all off at a shelter not far from the airport in Newark and spend some time talking with the coordinators there, who were still friendly and smiling a week after the storm.

There were plenty of smiles to go around at the book fair, too.  I loved chatting with these kids about books and reading and their own writing, too. Many were working on stories of their own and were eager to tell me about them.

Thanks, Montclair Kimberley Academy and Scholastic, for a wonderful book fair day!



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14. The Clean Pig, Leonard Wisegard

I found this book, The Clean Pig, on a recent thrift outing. It has many issues:
ex-library, writing in the book, a few tears and a couple loose pages, but it's hard for me to pass up a book by Leonard Weisgard, especially one that I don't have. It was less than a dollar plus it's perfect for scanning, so win-win. 

I really like the sepia colors in this book. Weisgard was a master at working with limited color schemes. His compositions are great also.

The Clean Pig
Written and Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952

To read about Leonard Weisgard, click here.

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15. No More Bad Airport Food!

I attended the media event for the Grand Opening of the  Food Network Kitchen at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. All I can say is Wow! It is amazing! I’ve never had such fresh and delicious food in an airport, nor have I seen such a chic restaurant space in an airport.

Check out my article on About.com


I hope you have a reason to fly through FLL in Terminal 3, Concourse F, so you can check it out for yourself!

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16. Fifty Shades of... Chicken?


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17. Advent Event Day 3

 Welcome to day 3 of the Advent Event! Please share this event with your friends. The more anthologies we can sell, the more money we can raise for the National Down Syndrome Society.

Purchase the book here: http://amzn.com/1479266248

Or visit this site for more information: http://adventanthology.wordpress.com

Here’s a look at the next two stories:

"The Mistletoe" by Janet Olsen

Charlie stood outside the shop, watching through the window as children waited to see Santa, the younger ones clinging to their mothers. Charlie couldn't help but feel a little sorry for Santa. So many children feared him.
"Hey man, what ya doing out here?" Tony joined Charlie on the sidewalk.
"Do you think I'm too old to see Santa?"
Tony chuckled. "You're looking at him through the glass right now."
"You know what I mean."
"A twenty-five-year-old man would look kinda funny sitting on Santa's lap." Tony turned to his friend. Charlie stared through the window but he wasn't looking at what was inside. "You're not still moping about Bernice, are ya?"
"No—like you said, we were all wrong for each other. I hate that she dumped me right before Christmas but It's fine." Charlie shifted in the cold pulling his coat tighter. "I just wish..."
Charlie shook his head and pulled out the package he was delivering to Tony. Tony thanked him and shoved the box into his pocket before they stepped into the warmth of the shop.
"Come on—I'm not Santa, but I can listen to your Christmas wish."

"In the Bleak Midwinter" by Teresa G. Osgood

“Chop your wood, sir?  Please, sir?  Carry your bundle, miss?”
The bleak midwinter day was coming to a close, and the chance of filling my belly was close to naught.  The few townspeople still on the street rushed by my corner, arms full, muffled faces down.
“Fetch your water, ma’am?”
“Bit late for that, ain’t it?”  The crone looked up to cackle at me.  “The well’s frozen over.  You’d best get on home, lad,” she called, but I was already headed across the square.
I slipped two or three times on the morning’s snow, packed down over the snow from yesterday and from the day before.  The well was an inky pit, but surely the ink was still liquid.  I let down the heavy bucket.
I thought the bucket must have hit the stony side of the shaft, so I pulled on the rope, jiggled it a bit.  Again, I heard the sound of oak on stone, and I knew the old woman had told me the truth.  A parched feeling spread across my throat, competing with the hollowness of my belly.
The wind whipped past, snatching at the shawl around my shoulders.  I grabbed it back.  That shawl was all I had left of my mum, near all that was keeping me alive in this world.  I looked up to see the wind chasing the last tattered clouds away.  Stars were coming out like so many shards of ice.  I shuddered, and picked my way toward the alley.

And here a look of one of the prizes:

A signed copy of my first novel. The prequel just came out on Amazon, called "The Canticle Prelude".

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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18. Me’ma and the Great Mountain

Author: Lorin Morgan-Richards
Publisher: A Raven Above Press
Genre: Literary
ISBN: 978-0983002031
Pages: 138
Price: $10.00

Buy it at author’s website

A young girl named Me’ma makes a daring escape when the Baron’s men invade her village. Aided by a wolf named Bright Eye and her two purple leaf dolls, Xetacu and Tchesue, she heads up the river toward the Great Mountain. Grandfather told her that the land beyond was beautiful, free from all cruelty. Me’ma decides this is the place she longs to settle and sets off with determination.

Along the way, she meets some interesting characters: a man with a head that tilts off, and needs to be held in place (he had been hanged), a woman whose body is split in two, and one half falls off the other when not belted securely (she had been sawed in half), and various mounted, stuffed, and skinned animals who have learned the ability to talk. And finally she meets the Baron and his henchmen, face to face, in a great showdown over the Serpent.

While Me’ma journeys toward the Great Mountain, her overriding concern is the for the native people, plants and animals of the area. Respecting nature comes easily to Me’ma, and she wants everyone to be treated safely and fairly. And since the Baron and the Serpent are the enemies of all, Me’ma particularly wants him stopped. Symbolizing the way native peoples were removed from their land, this story reminds us that nothing good can come from such violence. Me’ma and the Great Mountain is a lesson reminding us of our obligation to treat others with fairness and kindness, allowing all to remain free.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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19. Kickstarter project: The Game of Books.

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20. World touring sketchbooks

Have you drawn in your sketchbook today? It’s a question that humbles every aspiring children’s book illustrator. But in our “high touch era” where the handcrafts site Etsy numbers near the top of online marketplaces and scrapbooking became so cool that it inspired the social media phenomenon known as Pinterest, sketchbooks and the art of filling them [...]

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21. Illustration Friday: Tree

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22. Transcendent Jet lag: also an Elephant, Lunatic Heroes, Bad Sneezing & Media

posted by Neil
I'm in Nantes, France, at the Utopiales Festival. A bit jet-lagged, but happy. I turned 52 about 40 minutes ago.

This morning I rode on a carousel and saw an elephant. Here is the elephant:

(Both of these things and more at http://www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/)

I just spent some of the last 40 minutes looking at the dailies from my Doctor Who episode. I won't put any spoilers about it up here, not yet -- not even things that probably aren't really spoilers, like the villain, the working title, or any of the stuff that's all over the web right now. (Google and it will all be yours...)

Dave McKean is here in Nantes. He drew me a birthday card...

I was in Vienna on Monday, kicking off a secret project with Lomo. (See some of my Lomo photos here, along with a Very Odd Interview).

One reason I'm a bit jet-lagged is that I flew with Amanda from Vienna on Tuesday morning to Boston, where she voted and we saw her best friend Anthony, who is having some very serious health issues, and then the next day I flew to France. 

(Amanda wrote a beautiful heartrending blog about who Anthony is, his illness, and his part in her life at her website here.)

Anthony's written a book, introduced by Amanda: stories about his life and family, called Lunatic Heroes. He's a terrific writer, and the book's good. He's having a book launch on the 20th on Nov in Lexington Ma., and Amanda and I are going to be reading/performing that night to support him. (I'll be reading some of my new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.) 

The tickets for the reading are $10 each, and the money from the tickets is going to cancer care and research.

Tickets for the event are available athttp://lunaticheroes.bpt.me

If you're anywhere in the Boston area, come to Lexington and say hello.


Would you like me to demonstrate how bad a sneeze-actor I am? You would? Then watch this...

It's the trailer for Chu's Day. Chu's Day will go on sale on January the 8th. It's for really little kids. (Here's an Amazon link.) Please spread the video around.


Cool author Patrick Rothfuss is the guiding light and force behind the Worldbuilders movement, which exists mostly on his blog and raises money for Heifer International. As he explains on his blog,

Heifer International is my favorite charity. It helps people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. All over the world Heifer promotes education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry. 
They don’t just keep kids from starving, they make it so families can take care of themselves. They give goats, sheep, and chickens to families so their children have milk to drink, warm clothes to wear, and eggs to eat.
He's been giving away amazing books to people who donated, over the years. This year he's doing a calendar, with art by Lee Moyer. They asked if they could put a character from American Gods into it, and I said yes.

Apparently, Media looks and dresses a whole lot like the lovely Amanda Palmer. (It's a painting, not a photo.) She's June...

(I love the Lucy-Amanda creature talking to Shadow in the comic at the start of the month...)

You can order your Worldbuilders Calendar directly from Pat at http://thetinkerspacks.bigcartel.com/product/pre-order-2013-pin-up-calendar.

I hope you order yours. They'll make great gifts. And I trust that next year's Worldbuilders Fantasy Calendar will consist mostly of hunky Men-of-Fantasy wearing not very much at all, to balance things out.


Sleep. It's time.

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23. Have You Met Prima the Ballerina?

Nikki White and her husband Ethan White both danced professionally for ballet companies in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 10 years before embarking on a new and exciting direction in their dance careers. They're on a mission to bring contemporary ballet to wider audiences and in doing so were named one of three finalists on Paula Abdul's CBS television show Live to Dance in 2011. Interestingly, their new career direction also includes the launch of a new picture book character -- Prima the Ballerina!

If you've checked out the video above, you've gotten a little taste of who Nikki and Ethan are and what their impressive dancing and choreography are like. But just who is Prima the Ballerina? Well, I've read about Prima online and have also been in touch with Nikki to find out.

"Prima is an expressive young girl, with a wonderful imagination, a curious nature, and a big heart," says Nikki, who will be writing all the books in the Prima series. "She finds the dance in every movement, the games in everyday activities, and the joy that comes from self expression."

These days, Nikki spends a lot of time teaching, and Prima was developed partly in response to parents and fellow teachers wanting to know how she engages her students. So in some ways, the books will be an extension of Nikki, using many of the same techniques that Nikki uses to teach dance to young children.

The series will follow Prima as she learns about many different kinds of dance. But, given Nikki's background, all of the books will show how the foundation of ballet connects to these other forms of movement. Hip-hop, classical Indian dance, modern dance, tap, and ballroom dance are all on the list of possible themes for future books. 

The first book in the series -- Prima the Ballerina: In Her Backyard -- focuses on how ballet can inform creative movement. In the book, Prima meets backyard animals who each teach her a different way to move. She meets butterflies, an owl, and snakes. Ants teach her how to balance, and a bunny teaches her how to jump high, with her toes pointed, and land softly on the ground. By the end of the book, Prima realizes that she can make a whole dance out of everything she has learned from her animal friends!

If you look closely at Prima, you may be wondering how she was illustrated. Well, Nikki's husband Ethan is not only a remarkable dancer but also a talented visual artist. "Prima is made out of clay with fully articulating joints that allow her to have the same range of motion as a real dancer," says Nikki. She and Ethan took photos of Prima in proper ballet positions and blended them together with other handmade, drawn, and computer-generated characters and backgrounds to create the images in the book. Pretty neat, right?

Another thing I've learned from talking to Nikki is that more than just a series, Prima the Ballerina is a brand that was created to reach children and their caregivers with dance tools they might not otherwise have available to them. Prima is available not only as a hardcover picture book but also as an interactive flipbook. An accompanying musical CD is also available for purchase, especially if you are looking for music to go along with the games Prima plays with the animals in the book.

"We've witnessed and personally experienced the decline in arts and education funding, and we feel that it is up to us as a society to create a culture that values and celebrates the arts," Nikki says. "The launching of this brand is our attempt to make dance education affordable and available to all."

I have to give Nikki and Ethan a lot of credit for launching these products on their own. They have been busy marketing online, visiting bookstores, going on school visits, and much more. And they have a lot of dedication and enthusiasm!

If you are searching for a traditionally published book about dance to entertain young children, this may not be what you're looking for. But if you are searching for a tool to engage young children in dance and begin teaching them some of the important concepts that all good dancers must master, then Prima could be for you. I wish Nikki and Ethan lots of success in growing their brand!

Learn more about Nikki's and Ethan's artistic background and adventures at whitetreefineart.com. Read more about Prima and preview her products at primatheballerina.com.

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24. Friday Night at the Question Emporium

I'm confused and have some concerns about the copyright laws regarding the publication of novels. I am not sure how I should go about copywriting my work. I am hoping you will be able to clarify this process for me.

Is my work already copyrighted once I create it? If you were to accept my manuscript, do you help me copyright my work? Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Your work is protected by copyright law as soon as you write it.

Once your work is sold to a publisher, there's a clause in your publishing contract that says the publisher will register the work with the US Copyright office.

You should not register something with the copyright office at the query stage. And you also don't need to put the (c) notice on your manuscript.

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25. World touring sketchbooks

Have you drawn in your sketchbook today? It’s a question that humbles every aspiring children’s book illustrator.

But in our “high touch era” where the handcrafts site Etsy numbers near the top of online marketplaces and scrapbooking became so cool that it inspired the social media phenomenon known as Pinterest, sketchbooks and the art of filling them are no longer restricted to fine artists and commercial artists and hobby painters.

It’s a more general cause celebre and maybe even a craze, if popular blog groups like SketchCrawl, Urban Sketchers and Everyday Matters are an indication. Since 2009 the Brooklyn Art-House Co-Op has been gathering up sketchbooks and sending them on national tour in a traveling library. This year the effort extended across the Atlantic to include London. Hence the name,  2012 Sketchbook Project World Tour

“The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project where participants from all walks of life are sent a sketchbook and have until January 15th to fill the pages and return it for inclusion in a traveling exhibition and permanent collection at The Brooklyn Art Library,” the co-op’s website says.

You can see some 500 photos on the Facebook page. And some more cool photos in this Instagram gallery on Tumblr.

Sketchbook Tour stops in Austin

Our children’s picture book critique group under the Austin (Texas) Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Inklings decided to take part in this year’s tour with a group sketchbook mosaic.

It’s all explained (twice) in this riveting cinéma vérité documentary. Notice how the camera is not only hand-held in the respected auteur tradition, but often entirely neglected as the chronicler starts talking with his subjects and the lens tips to study T-shirts and shoes, picnic tables and dirt on the ground…

Austin (September 12-16) was the last North American stop before the books moved on to London. Starting from Brooklyn they’d already traveled to Chicago, Portland, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Oakland, Lynn, Portland (Maine), Toronto, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Orlando.

Co-Lab Project Space on Allen Street in East Austin was converted into a library replete with signage,  computers, workers, loaded bookshelves and waiting lines.  According to the Brooklyn ArtHouse archive, 2,435 books were checked out and viewed during those four days in Austin and 300 new Sketchbook Project library cards were issued.

The sketchbooks, new ones will be back in Austin next year — at Co-Labs again and at the SXSW Festival scene on March 15-17  for the 2013 World Tour.

Maury Tieman, Martha Carleton, Mark Mitchell, Joyce Chambers-Selber and Allissa Chambers of the Austin SCBWI Inklings — with “Willie Lisa.” Other “Inklings” who participated in the mosaic project included Margaret Jonon Buford, Martin Fry, Ann Hartman, Jeff Crosby and the late Louise Shelby.

November events

The biggest news of recent weeks? No, it wasn’t the U.S. presidential election. It was Disney buying LucasFilm/LucasArts and all Star Wars rights for $4 billion. Here’s a Forbes take on the purchase and more particulars and videos from Mashable. It means more Star Wars movies to come, a re-thinking and possible scrapping of Star Wars games currently on the boards and a new (apparently long overdue) Disney line for boys.

No, Star Wars didn’t start off as a children’s book, but it could have. The Disney purchase evidences the staggering value of an intellectual asset and of what sometimes can happen when a story with good characters ascends to the status of a meme.  This was not a freak occurrence, either. In 2009 Disney paid $4 billion  for Marvel Comics.

The other news of course is the publishing merger. Two of the “Big Six”, Random House, owned by the conglomerate Bertelsmann and Penguin, owned by publishing giant Pearson announced joining forces in a deal exptected to close sometime next year (to counter the threat of Amazon, some industry watchers suggest.) Combined companies willl have a fourth of the English-language consumer book sales, asserts the Publishers Weekly story on the announcement,

The merger takes the “Big Six” down to five:  Random House Penguin, Hachette, Holtzbrinck/Macmillan,  HarperCollins,  which is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the CBS owned Simon & Schuster — with those pesky 21st century publishing upstarts Amazon, Apple and Microsoft nipping at their heels.

November is Picture Book Month and author Dianne de Las Casas with co-founding author-illustrators Elizabeth DulembaKatie DavisTara Lazar and Wendy Martin have assembled this this delightful blog where author-illustrators guest post and the joys and significance of this peculiarly demanding literary art form.

November is also Picture Book Idea Month, if you didn’t know. It’s what PiBoIdMo stands for, writes children’s author Tara Lazar. “Tired of novelists having all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]? That’s why I created PiBoIdMo, as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers,” she says.  “The concept is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes).” The PiBoiMo part of Tara’s blog  is  loaded full with super “process posts” and tips from practitioners, along with some great author-illustrator “war stories” that will move and inspire you.

On the storm front, Chronicle Books editor Melissa Manlove is offering what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an aspiring picture book author — a FREE PASS to one of her company’s editorial meetings, along with a private  critique before yourstory goes to the meeting. It’s one of many neat auction items touted for KidLit Cares, a Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Read all about it on organizer and children’s book author Kate Messer’s blog.

E.B. Lewis to headline Austin SCBWI conference

Caldecott honor-winning illustrator E.B. Lewis will keynote the conference, Kick It Up a Notch as well as conduct a special illustrators’ intensive on Sunday after Saturday’s main event.

In the video below Lewis speaks compassionately on his painting exhibit Lotto Icons, which began as scribbled ideas in his (what else?) sketchbook.

Drawing in Photoshop

Steve Connor is an abstract fine arts painter, former art director, Adobe CS-6 certified instructor and CEO of Deep4D Digital Media & Training. He demystifies the PS tools and the difference modes of drawing and painting with them in this free 90 minute workshop, Vector and Paint: An Intro to Photoshop.

* * * * *

Award-winning author-illustrator Mark Mitchell wrote this post. Get on the blog mailing list and see some short videos on  “the best secret” to good drawing.

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