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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, dated 11/23/2012 [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 96
1. Author Experiments with 26-Book Series Giveaway on Amazon Kindle

26 Weeks Of Giveaway

from Webwire:

A London based author is running a potentially costly experiment by giving away his 26-book series over the next six months on Amazon's Kindle e-book reader.

Author David Bain has spent the past 5 years putting his 26-Week Digital Marketing Plan series together, and now believes that giving all of his books away for free is the best marketing strategy....

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2. Support Walmart workers this holiday season: Protest

"Walmart: Always low wages. Always!"
"Pay us enough to raise a family!"
 "Give us full-time hours and affordable health care!"
 "Walmart: Stop bullying workers!"

These are some of the chants I heard after joining protesters at a Denver Walmart yesterday, Black Friday, 2012. Instead of running to the annual American getting-frenzy of the day after Thanksgiving, I decided to extend my Giving Day to support people less fortunate than me.

Me who is without a job, me who is older than the species dirt, and whose prospects of retiring in the pursuit of happiness rests in the hands of the Powerball results today. Yeah, too many of those with jobs in 21st Century America exist at a level of basic survival. So, I consider myself less fortunate.

If you want to know more about Walmart workers, go here and here to learn about that. This post is more about an ex-70s movimiento radical's experience forty years later. Times have changed, but then too, they haven't.

Nationally, the protests were led by Walmart "associates," as their workers are called--perhaps to better disguise their terrible working conditions--and supported by United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

So, I spent part of Black Friday Morning walking the picket line with OUR Walmart (Organization United for Respect at Walmart), chanting whichever ones inspired me, smiling even at customers who crossed the line and generally trying not to bait Walmart execs who stood by doors acting as if "their" customers were in danger from picketers. I didn't do well on the last one, but I didn't get accosted or take their mierda, either. It was more fulfilling being there than having gorged on pavo the previous day.

On the other hand, Walmart gorges more and more
"Return on investment for the 12 months ended Oct. 31, 2012 was 18.0 percent. Year to date, the company returned $8.7 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. It reached #1 in 2002 and stayed there until 2009, when it fell behind Exxon Mobil. The only firm in the top four of the Fortune 500 not an energy company. The world’s largest corporation, with revenues of about $300 billion and almost two million employees."

The 1% keeping much of our 99% in Third-World status. Possibly our greatest American product these days: "Huffington Post uncovered what reporters call a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.

I've shopped there maybe six times in my lifetime, to-date. I avoid it, knowing I'd be supporting Congressionally backed shipping of more jobs to the prospering Chinese, not that I have anything against Chinese prosperity--just not for the benefit of our 1%. And I avoid it because my saving pennies or dollars reminds me of those who survived Nazi Germany by ignoring the lines headed into the concentration camps and ovens. A stretch in some ways, but a logic my brain follows.

I wasn't in the picket line only because raza work there. I was also there because it's what I believe democracy requires, especially in these times. Support especially the bottom half of the 99%, even if it's only a centavos or dolares sacrifice. In perspective, not that big of a deal.

A woman passing through picketers in front of me heard the protesters chant: "We say fight back!" Her response: "I say be glad you have a job." Typical individualistic, politically myopic, self-destructive American thinking. An Ugly American. But she got me thinking.

Because many customers were walking through the lines, although there were as few as 9 customers in line at the 32 registers inside at that moment, I put down my picket sign, picked up flyers (unfortunately, not in Spanish) and headed to the parking lot where I got customers to stop and listen.

It was great. No, I didn't re-educate and rally the masses or put much dent in corporate profits, but after explaining the purpose of the picket line, working conditions at Walmart, and what they were asking customers to do--not shop Walmart that day--I did learn some things.

I found mexicano shoppers most receptive. They remembered their mexicano general-strike heritage. They were more open to postponing their shopping. In some cases, they were unaware of anything and at times left without purchasing anything. I gave some time and was thankful it produced something good.

Next time I join anything like this, I'm grabbing flyers, switching to español and heading for cars parking. To get that sense of accomplishment. To strike back at the 1%. To Give in my country where Get or Buy is our national sickness. Plus, it'll work off some of that added weight from turkey-gorging. And maybe a tiny bit, it will erase some of that vergüenza that sometimes shames those of us who once gritoed "Que viva la causa!"

Es todo, hoy,

RudyG, aka author Rudy Ch. Garcia of the Chicano fantasy, The Closet of Discarded Dreams, who's working on the YA prequel that will feature a ridiculous chapter about Walmart. Interested publishers and agents can go here for details.

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3. Whiskers

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4. Black Friday...Really?

Yep, that's about it!

This is crazy! What can they possibly be trying to get that is worth acting like this? I don't do Black Friday ...I don't wait in lines for hours... I'm not going to pitch a tent... I'm not going to get hurt trying to save a few dollars. Lets all just have some dignity!

1 Comments on Black Friday...Really?, last added: 11/30/2012
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5. Monarch

Love, love Monarchs!

I decided to do a Monarch on a flower.  This is all paper except I used acrylic on the background.

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6. Gift Idea - Levels of Discovery Artists Rocker + a Giveaway

Co can't talk yet, but if he could I think he would be thankful that he is a big boy.  You can just tell that he is so proud of himself when he climbs up onto a chair, or feeds himself, or does anything really by himself.  He will stare at me until he catches my eye, and then he gives me the biggest happiest smile.

Because of this, today's gift idea is Levels of Discovery Children Furniture

Levels of Discovery is a children's furniture company that takes traditional children's furniture items, and adds a little something special..  As in, they make their furniture appealing to children.  Here's one of their takes on the normal kids bookcase.

Or their take on a chair fit for a princess.

One of my very favorite things that the company carries, is their rocking chairs.  Remember how I said Co likes to be a big boy and climb in chairs himself?  Their line of Rock A Buddies is perfect for him!

As cute as these all are, my absolute favorite is the Artists Rocker.
Features Include
  • Fun bright colors
  • Paintbrush Details
  • Rotating color wheel  - helps kids learn colors
  • 8" x 10" frame to show off your child's favorite picture
  • Little Desk in the shape of an artist palette
  • Pencil box with sliding lid attached to the other armrest
  • Flip down drawer underneath seat, perfect for holding supplies
  • For Age 3 to 6, up to 100 lbs.
To Buy - The Levels of Discovery Artist Rocker retails for around $150.  But it being thanksgiving weekend and all, I checked out a few of their pinnacle retail partners, and found quite a few great discounts (i.e. $40 off on Amazon, or 20% off at Babies R Us).

So far, I would say that the Rocker is worth the price.  The directions are clear, and so far its proved durable.  Their furniture would definitely make a great gift for that little prince or diva in your life!

To Win - Levels of Discovery is giving away an artists rocker to one of you!

To Enter complete any of the entries on the rafflecopter below.  While not required, they love it when consumers connect with them on facebook and social media.  So show them a little love and enter to win this great giveaway today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a product to review from the above company or their PR Agency. Opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own - I was not influenced in any way. I received no monetary compensation for this post. By entering this giveaway you agree to my giveaway/disclosure guidelines

28 Comments on Gift Idea - Levels of Discovery Artists Rocker + a Giveaway, last added: 12/10/2012
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7. SECRET # 10

10. When our parents discipline you, they still love you. A matter of fact, your par [...]

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8. Illustrator Saturday – Jennifer Gray Olsen

As far back as she can remember Jennifer Gray Olson loved to draw. A painfully shy child, art was one of the first ways she was able to connect with other people. When she was young she used her artwork as a way to start conversations with out all the awkwardness of actually talking.

This love of art carried through high school and on to college where she graduated in 2003 from California State University, Fullerton with a BA in Art Education. After graduating, she realized rather quickly that teaching was not her calling. She wanted to draw for a living. Four years and two kids later, in 2007 she decided to go for it. She accepted a contract to illustrate a chapter book entitled Inside Guide to Harry potter released by Japanese publisher Eigotown.

 With the support of her family and the guidance of her amazing critique group Jennifer has been able to pursue her dream of becoming a successful illustrator. Over the past few years she has illustrated a handful of educational books for publishers Wireless Generation and Genius Publishing. She also illustrated Hank by author Ron Ovadia and was a regular contributor to the L.A. Times Kid’s Reading Room. She is currently collaborating on an e-book with author Todd Kessler, co-creator of Blue’s Clues.

In addition to illustrating, Jennifer is also the co-coordinator for the SCBWI Orange /Riverside/San Bernardino county illustrator’s schmooze. Jennifer lives in Corona California with her husband, two boys and baby girl.

Here’s Jennifer explaining her process:

I use watercolor the whole time and micron pens, which won’t bleed when wet. I also use Kraft paper tape to secure my paper to a board before I begin painting so that it won’t warp once it gets wet. Sometimes if I’m going for a softer look in the painting I’ll use a kneaded eraser over the whole thing before I start.

Before I start a final illustration I always start with a color sketch in my sketch book. Kind of like a mock up of what I’m planning to do.

Next is my pencil drawing

 I then ink the piece and go over it with a wash of yellow ocre

I go back over it with yellow ocre again and try to lay in more values.

I always start with painting the character I’m most excited to paint. This might not be the best way, but it keeps it fun for me…like having dessert before dinner :)

I lay in the background

Then I paint the rest. I like to let my paint drip.

Here’s a close-up

The watercolor portion is done!

I then scan the painting and adjust the color levels in Photoshop. And here’s the final piece of art!!  The final digital version is what gets sent to the publisher. 

How long have you been illustrating?

I suppose I’ve been illustrating all my life without really realizing it.  I got serious about it a couple years after graduating college.

What was the first thing you painted and got paid for doing?

I began illustrating professionally in 2007 after being approached by a Japanese publisher named Egiotown.  I believe one of the editors had seen my illustrations on illustrationfriday.com and followed that to my blog (I didn’t have a website at the time).  They hired me to illustrate a chapter book entitled The Inside Guide to Harry Potter, an ESL book to help teach English to Japanese readers.  I’m a die-hard Potter fan, so it was a great first project for me to work on!

I read on the Internet that you went to California State University, Fullerton, where you earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art education. Did you teach after graduation?

After college I had my two oldest children, Ethan and Eli, and I stayed home with them full time.  I did however spend a few days in the classrooms of friends of mine that were teachers, to see if I was cut out for it.  It definitely wasn’t a good fit for me at the time, which ultimately led me to entertain the possibility of becoming an illustrator.  That being said, I haven’t completely ruled out the possibility of teaching art someday.

Do you feel your experience at CSU helped develop your style?

Probably not so much my illustrating style but perhaps my artistic preferences and general aesthetic.  While attending CSUF and San Jose State University my emphasis was in craft; mainly sculpture and glass blowing.  Spending so much time in both of those art departments definitely had a major impact on the work I do today.

Could you give us the low down on the types of classes you took at CSU?

I spent the majority of my time in the ceramics department.  I took every sculpting class I could get me hands on!  Looking back though, there were two classes that didn’t seem relevant to me at the time, but the knowledge from which is invaluable to me now.  Intro to illustrating with Larry Johnson introduced me to how powerful an ongoing narrative can be in artwork.  Before that class I really only viewed art as a single stand-alone piece.  Also, I’m still constantly using the skills I learned in Cliff Cramp’s digital illustration class.  That course gave me a solid foundation in Photoshop that I still pull from.

Have you seen your work change since you started illustrating?

Sometimes I think it’s almost unrecognizable from what it was 5 years ago!  I didn’t have those years in college to work out the kinks in my style, so I’ve kind of had to do it as I go.  I would say I only found my “voice” about two years ago, but then I think artists are always evolving and changing over the years.  I hope I continue to do so.

I found the above illustration on the Internet that you did titled SCARED.  Can you tell us what inspired that illustration?

I did the piece SACRED as part of the book launch for my friend Elana Kuczynski Arnold’s new book SACRED that just came out.   The piece was based on the main character, who as a result of a tragedy was coping with her grief through anorexia.   Even though it was a pretty dark piece, it was a lot of fun to illustrate something outside of my usual style.

How did you get involved in illustrating the picture book HANK?

I was approached by the author, Ron Ovadia, to illustrate his manuscript.  I believe he found my work on childrensillustrators.com.  The contract was a “work for hire” agreement.  He was great to work with and it was exactly the kind of experience I needed at the time.

Is Hank a Self Published Book?

Yes.  Ron published it himself through Dog Ear Publishing.

Does working with self-published authors give you enough money to continue do freelance work for them?

For me it didn’t, but if you’re willing to set a price point and not undervalue your work, it definitely could.  There are a lot of great self-publishing opportunities out there and I would never close myself off to it completely.

Do you have a contract that you use for self-published authors when agreeing to do their illustrations?

I do now.  However, Hank was the only self-published picture book I’ve worked on.  After completing that project I spoke with many other illustrators who had worked on similar projects and I did a lot of research on fair pricing guidelines.  I now have a flat rate for that type of “work for hire” that I try to stay strict to.

How do you keep a client from constantly asking for changes to what you have illustrated?

It should be specified in the contract how many revisions they’re allowed to ask of you and whether or not you will be expected to revise after the final color pieces are turned in.  Also, if you are asked to revise after finals are submitted, usually you should be compensated for the additional work.  Most of the time this isn’t a problem.  That being said, I had one publisher in particular that always seemed to overlook that part of the contract.    I think I was probably on my third book with them before I finally started enforcing that portion of the contract (I’m kind of a push-over).  Doing that greatly improved our working relationship. 

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on two projects.  The first is a book dummy that I both wrote and illustrated entitled HOW TO BE A SUPER AWESOME WARRIOR NINJA.  It’s about a Ninja Bunny that feels as though he’s not meeting his full ninja potential (master of all ninjabilities).  He decides to follow the advice of the “Narrator,” who promises to guide him to becoming a Super Awesome Warrior Ninja.  This does not go well for Ninja Bunny (ninjaries).  In the end he realizes that the most important lesson is to be your own ninja.  I actually JUST sent it out to a few publishers who had asked to see it.  Keep your fingers crossed.

The second book I’m working on is THE GOOD DOG by Todd Kessler (co-creator of Blue’s Clues).  He and I are collaborating on this 52 page e-book that we hope to release in the spring of 2013.  I’m having so much fun working on this project!  The story is amazing and Todd is fabulous to work with.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own picture book?

That’s the goal I keep working towards.  While I love illustrating other peoples stories, in the end I want to make a career of illustrating my own.

Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Not usually.  If I’m illustrating a specific location or type of clothing, I’ll do internet research to find images.  Sometimes if there’s a gestural position I’m having trouble with I’ll pose for it myself or force one of my kids to do it.

Has anyone requested you to do an e-book for them? If so, do you have to approach the illustrations in a different why?  Follow certain guidelines, etc.?

As I said above, I’m currently working on an e-book.  Overall, my approach is pretty much the same.  I have a little more freedom with the composition because I don’t have to worry about the gutter in the middle of the page as much.  However, I might have to tweak some of my illustrations when we format the book for the IPad, because I believe they DO still use a faux gutter.

Of all the illustrations you have done which one is your favorite?

I think my favorite would have to be a black and white piece I did for my portfolio.  It’s of a monster named Saul who has some unwanted guests take up residence on his antlers.

Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

With my professional work I use it every time.  When I first started, I painted primarily digitally, now I mainly just use it to tweak the watercolor painting and put some finishing touches on it.  Sometimes just a quick shift in the color balance can change the whole mood of the piece and I like having the freedom to do that (or undo that) if I choose.

Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

I use a very old and very small Wacom tablet.  I’m still hoping Santa will bring a new Cintiq Touch one of these years!!

Do you have an artist rep. or agent?  If not, would you like to find one?

I don’t have an agent at this time but I’m definitely interested in signing with one.  I’m currently researching potential literary agents that I’d like to submit to.

Do you have a studio in your house?

Yep!  My studio is right next to the living room and all the chaos that comes with two boys and a baby.

Do you have a favorite medium you use?

Ink and watercolor. I’ve worked in everything from digital painting to clay and I always end up back at watercolor and ink. I use micron pens and then watercolor over them.

Are there any painting tips (materials, etc) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?

I’m kind of obsessed with my water color paper, it took me years to find just the right one for me.  I use Stonehenge Cream Paper 22×30 and I buy it by the sheet. 

What kinds of things do you do to promote yourself?

I try to send out promo cards twice a year and enter illustration contests. Although networking at events and talking to editors and art directors’ one on one seems to be one of the best ways to get your name out there.

Have you ever tried your hand at a wordless picture book?

I actually put together an almost wordless dummy book just before the 2012 SCBWI summer conference. It’s about a girl and her umbrella. The umbrella doesn’t like the rain so it decides to run away but races back to save the girl when she finds herself in a dangerous situation.

Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?

With taking care of the house, 3 kids, and meeting deadlines I just try to work whenever possible and try to be flexible about it. If I was completely rigid about the hours I can work I would constantly feel defeated when my attention was needed somewhere else and I had to pause working. Luckily I work most nights from 5 to 9 when my husband is home and also, my mother-in law is nice enough to take the baby twice a week in the daytime so I can work. My fabulous friends and family also pitch in when I’m in a pinch with a deadline.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own picture book?

That’s the goal I keep working towards.  While I love illustrating other peoples stories, in the end I want to make a career of illustrating my own.



Do you have any words of wisdom to share with other illustrators?

1. Take yourself seriously at what you do, because if you don’t know one else will.

2. Hire a housekeeper to come in twice a month and clean the bathrooms (I’m still working on that one).

Thank you Jennifer for sharing you expertise, journey, and art with us. I am sure we will be seeing more from you.

If you would like to visit Jennifer you can do so going to her website at www.jennifergrayolson.com. It would be great if you could take a minute to leave Jennifer a comment. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Interview, picture books, Process Tagged: California Satate University, Jennifer Gray Olson, Picture Book - Hank, Todd Kessler

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9. PiBoIdMo Day 24: Deb Lund Says “May the Fours Be With You”

Where do you get your ideas?

As soon as I call on a kid at a school visit and they ask this question, dozens of other hands go down. You’ll hear countless children’s authors say it’s the question they’re asked the most. I get ideas everywhere (yes, that’s a copout statement), and so can you!

But first, you have to get past Miss Midge and her like. Those nasty voices that say miserable things to you. Here she is in my journal (and right now she’s saying “You’re not an artist, what are you doing!?!”)


If you’ve been moaning about being behind in your PiBo count—stop perfectionizing! (Since my dinobooks, I’ve thrown out the dictionary. We are all powerful. We create worlds. We can create our own words.) Write down ALL the ideas you consider. You don’t know what will piggyback on them or what new variation will emerge. Let in the misfits and barefoot ideas that blankly stare at you.

But, back to the coach in me who wants you to stop being so durned critical… Name that beast inside you and move on. Sorry, but you gotta be tough about this one. Stand up for yourself. No self-bullying allowed!

Done exorcising that evil shadow? (Not totally? Okay, we’ll visit this again a little later.) Let’s move on to your hunting training.


Ideas lurk. They hide. They disguise themselves. It’s your job to hunt them down. You develop x-ray vision, you study playground shenanigans and never say Bah Humbug about any holiday that involves kids, chaos, and giddiness. You train your family and friends. You observe like a four year old. You and your trainees share knowing looks. Picture book? Picture book!


I always say writing is part imagination and part memory—it’s just the ratio that changes. Open your eyes with this in mind and you’ll never lack for ideas.

While other four-year-olds were playing in their sandboxes, I sat on my dad’s lap and operated the levers on his backhoe. I helped him “build.” Those experiences inspired MONSTERS ON MACHINES.

I sailed with The Shifty Sailors (the motley crew below) from Seattle to Olympia, and we took the train on the way home… DINOSAILORS and ALL ABOARD THE DINOTRAIN.

You see? Memory and imagination.

Along with memories come emotions. That takes a little deeper mining, but that’s what makes prose sing. What keeps readers engaged, holding their breaths, laughing out loud, shedding tears. Feel as you write. Wring yourself out onto the page. Write the words that pour from that space that aches, that cries for joy. Replace your judgment with curiosity and write as if your words can save the world. Because they can.


Picture book creators must play! Go galumphing! (Says my good friend George Shannon—who is great at accessing his four year old). Twist those ideas, turn them upside down, pack them with surprises and yummy words until you’re clapping and Yay-ing! Be four!

So, little girl or boy inside that big grown-up writer, what do you want? What’s your big dream or wish? Write it. Write whatever “it” becomes. And big outside writer, let that four-year-old go where it’s going to go. Don’t wait for the tantrum. If Miss Midge hears the kicking and yelling, she’ll be all over me.

I promised you another try at quieting your inner critics. Ready?

Raise your write hand and repeat after me…

Note: Did you know some people are so controlled by their inner critic that they can’t even get their hands in the air? RAISE THEM! There. Was that really so tough?

Write badly! Write junk—and lots of it! You gotta dig through lots of rocks to unearth the gems. You clean the mess up later—not before it hits the page.

No excuses, no stopping, no perfectionizing…

Just do it! And may the Fours be with you!

Deb Lund is a picture book author, creativity coach, continuing education instructor, and writing teacher. In her past lives, she’s been a music and classroom teacher, an elementary librarian, and a school founding director. If Deb’s rambling sparked anything for you, check out more on her blog. She lives on Whidbey Island, but if you can’t make it there to hang out with her, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


Deb is generously giving away one signed copy each of DINOSAILORS and ALL ABOARD THE DINOTRAIN! Just leave a comment to enter. Two winners will be selected in one week. Good luck!

10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 24: Deb Lund Says “May the Fours Be With You”, last added: 12/2/2012
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10. To Run Great You Have To Trust Yourself, To Do That You Put Trust In Others

Running is one of those sports that is pretty much you against yourself. But that’s not quite right because running FORCES you, if you want to be your absolute best, to rely on a few key other people as well. There is an incredible amount of trust you must put on others in order to ultimately trust yourself and your own capabilities.

track runner

For ever runner there is an entire support system.

You have to have TRUST in your coach. A running coach and their athlete’s relationship is one that is incredibly intimate; there is much said without ever being voiced. The ‘best’ relationships are build to become ones that a coach can literally sense what a runner is doing and how their body is reacting even better than the runner. A bond like that takes years of course, and finding the right ‘fit’ also takes time. To get that ‘fit’ an athlete needs to be able to have nearly blind faith in their coach. Trust is imperative.

Not everyone has a coach, so this trust must be shifted to that of the training program, whatever that may be. You see, to get the confidence one needs to excel in racing you have to have to have ‘proof’ by way of your training. Hard evidence from grueling workouts that you survived; you remind yourself you’ve outlasted the pain before and can do it again. The concrete TIMES and numbers also don’t lie and offer up ample proof. You need to trust your training come race day.

You need to feel comfortable with your competitors. The word trust here is slightly altered; more fitting is embracing those runners next to you throughout the race. They are the ones pushing you, driving you to reach your potential, pulling you along to times and feats you may not even realized you were capable of. You THRIVE under the presence of your competition.
teammate runners
Trust is spot on for what you must feel amongst your training partners. Be them actual bodies pulling you through workouts (probably the most ideal situation) or those you communicate with online. Either way they keep you extra accountable; the shove you sometimes need to either get out the door or pick up the pace when necessary.

Physical training partners make a world of difference. Bonds of trust, reliance, friendship, and so much more are created through sweat and miles. Those bonds are more resilient than any amount of words or coffee dates. Your training partners begin to know you and have a sense of your ‘running self’ a bit like a coach; not to the same degree but in that direction. You need to TRUST your teammates and training partners, use that relationship as the ‘good’ kind of pressure when the gun goes off. Race for yourself first, then race amongst your teammates knowing they too have confidence in your abilities. Finally, race with extra confidence in seeing your teammates thrive; if you’re doing the same amount of work as them, the better they do is PROOF that the better you can do.

There is a world of trust and gratitude that each and every runner needs to have in their other supporters. Be them parents cheering or significant others who accept that running time isn’t selfish time; the physical therapists who piece us back together after injuries, the massage therapists if we’re lucky enough to snag a rub-down from. Then there are the poor souls who listen to us rant during times of injuries or bad races; give us some time to vent but then push us to get into a positive and proactive mindset to keep moving forward.

Running gets coined as a selfish sport but it isn’t so long as each runner acknowledges they are NOT an island, but that they have a network of those they must rely on and TRUST in to reach all of those lofty goals they strive for.

1) Who are some of the people you have trust in and ‘use’ to become the runner you have become and want to be?

2) Do you have a coach? How long have you been with them and what is that relationship like?

3) Name a source of support you get that is a non-runner.
My little siblings (getting not so little) are blessed with coordination so compete is other sports…hehe.

best running shirts

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11. A Magic Carpet Ride. . .

Like it or not, the holiday season is upon us.

I may be prejudiced, but as a writer I feel that books
make the best gifts ever - especially for children.

So give them

 A ticket to their own
Magic Carpet Ride

   Fun, adventure, and a lifetime of reading enjoyment.


No surfing needed.

(All 13 books listed with direct purchase links)

My writing is a habit I can't kick - an addiction if you will.  To not write is unthinkable!  Over the years my best stories came to me in the middle of the night. They had me creeping into the bathroom to write them down before they became lost, along with my other dreams. 

Some flowed into my computer as smooth and easy as honey on hot toast. Others were stubborn, difficult, or just plain antsy.  I had to cajole, threaten and bribe the characters to stick with the program - MY program. I won some and I last some.  Yet however the story finally ended, I fell in love with it.  I even admit that the characters sometimes had better plot ideas than I.  Shush. . . don't spread that around, mates.

I wrote each story with the idea of HOOKING kids on reading. Teach a child to love books at an early age, and you make them into lifelong readers.  And the way to do that is to read them books that have giggles, fun, adventure, love,  and that unique WOW factor that makes them into re-readable favorites.

   I love each book I wrote, and I am hoping to
make converts out of YOU!

Some clues about my books.

Catchy rhymes that help and encourage kids with dyslexia.
Sneaky rhyming that shows how sudden BIG change can really
mess with a child.  Two fun reads that come with helpful parent/teacher guides.

Boy type rhymes
that offerer just the right helping of yucky BOY stuff.

Then came WILD and WONDERFUL!
7 rhyming stories that tell about critters from the US and Australia.
Fun, educational, and full of real facts.

My Young Teen reads:
A coming of age adventure set in the Aussie Outback.
Blimey, whoda thunk that a sulfur crested cockatoo named Claude could become
such a great character, along with a young aboriginal boy called Taconi,
+ a  Man Ceremony, a bunch of  witchetty grubs, and a freaked out emu.
coming soon
Featuring the grandchildren of Taconi and the Boss, in a fight to survive an outback
walkabout, a crazed Medicine Man, and sibling rivalry that begins
with a lie and expands to threaten friendship and family.

 A ghost with a determination to make her killer pay, has searched forty years for help.
Frannie James is her last chance.  The ghost, and her giant arachnid "familiar,"
are hard to resist.  Add a twin brother, a missing Mom, a few e-mails, and a handy
frying pan.  Killer is caught!

If these tantalizing story tit-bits don't whet your reading appetite. . .
nothing will! 

For those who like to sample before they buy,
a  "Sneak Peek" inside 8 of my latest books.

Oh, and I guess I should throw
in a cover or two -
just to make it interesting.



A taste of 13 different covers.
Kindle - Amazon - Powell's Books - Nook -
Publisher - Autographed WEBSITE



for YOU!

My Memoir
FREE Download



BOOKS for KIDS  -  Manuscript Critiques


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12. The Unraveling of Wentwater

Author: C.S. Lakin
Publisher: Living Ink Books
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 978-089957-892-7
Pages: 352
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

A long time ago, a prophecy was uttered at a baby-naming ceremony. This babe would be the unraveling of Wentwater. Now an adult, Teralyn, the girl of the prophecy, only wants to play her music with Fromer, the man she loves. But when the prophecy suddenly comes true, Teralyn is the only one who can put Wentwater back together again.

Words have power, and when words start disappearing from Wentwater, disaster results. Jealousy leads to recklessness, and things quickly get out of control. Will Fromer be lost to Teralyn forever? One man holds the key to Fromer’s return, but will he come to his senses and allow him back?

In this fourth book in The Gates of Heaven series, it appears that the forces of evil are too strong for Wentwater. But ultimately, good triumphs over evil, and all is restored to normal. Although written as fantasy, one can clearly see the powers of good and evil at work in our own lives. Good can triumph, but only if we let it.

See also The Land of Darkness, book three in The Gates of Heaven. I highly recommend this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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13. The Great Christmas Crisis

Written by Kim Norman, Illustrated by Jannie Ho
Published October 2, 2012
By Sterling Children’s Books
ISBN-13:  978-1-4027-8632-7
Hardcover, 10.3″ x 10.2″
26 pages
Ages 4-7

REVIEW (Teresa):  Follow Santa as he goes undercover to solve the toy production crisis at the North Pole.

When the machines stop functioning, supplies run out, and nothing is working right at the North Pole, Santa shrinks himself to elf size and goes under cover to find out why things are going wrong.  He soon discovers that with “an extra long ‘nice’ list” and no time to relax, the elves just can’t keep up with toy production.  Luckily, Mrs. Claus figures out a way to use Santa’s chimney enlarger to restore order.  A charming, rhyming Santa tale to brighten the holiday season with colorful double page spreads.  Cheerful computer generated illustrations with spot-glossing are embossed on heavy stock paper.  ♥♥♥♥

Available at Barnes & Noble

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14. Nonsense

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15. Turkey Disaster ! ?

In April, we bought a new range with digital oven controls.  Two different options for self-cleaning, too.  There are knobs for the burners but to control the oven I just need to poke the right place on the touch screen.  The important words in that last sentence are "the right place."

The turkey was done.  The vegetables were roasted.  All I had to do was make the gravy.  People weren't showing up for another 40 minutes or so.  So I emptied the warming drawer and poked "Warming Drawer" on the control panel.  My finger slipped.  Do you know what control is right under the Warming Drawer area?  THE SELF CLEANING CONTROL!!!

The oven whirred and the LOC message showed up and my turkey was imprisoned in an oven that would soon heat to immense temperatures.

The ...door....would...NOT.....OPEN!


This is a close approximation of how I looked yesterday!

That wild screaming you heard coming from the East - that was me!  I could not breathe.  I could barely speak.  BUT! I could shriek and jump up and down.

I poked the touch screen wildly - The ON OFF control, the Warming Drawer, the Self Clean control, the On Off control again.  The oven remained LOCKED. NOOOOOO!!!!!!

I pounded down the basement stairs to the breaker box and snapped all the kitchen circuits off.  Hub calmly called down that the oven was still on and still locked.

Back to the breaker box.  Of course, the range was on its own circuit.  Snap!

I raced upstairs - gabbling wildly and crying "Oh! Oh! Oh no!"  and other useful phrases like, "My turkey will burn up!  Smoke!  Help!"  And the ever helpful "I AM SO STUPID!!"

Hub stood by calmly, saying.  "Don't worry.  It will be all right. "  And he looked for the oven's manual.

Smart man!  I knew where the manual was and half crying, half shrieking the entire time, I turned to the pages about the Self Cleaning cycle and read this.

"To pause or stop the Self Cleaning cycle, push the On/Off control.  The oven will unlock when the temperature returns to a safe level."


So I ran downstairs and snapped the range circuit back on and raced back upstairs.  I poked the On/Off control and waited, rocking from one foot to the other and wringing my hands.  Within 3 minutes, the oven door was unlocked.  The turkey was intact and a lovely brown.  The vegetables were still delicious.  Thanksgiving was saved!

I am thankful for my husband.  His unruffled manner helped me find a solution.  Still, I wish we had the event on video. The whole incident would make a good entry on America's Funniest Home Videos!

Hope your Thanksgiving was lovely and love-filled.

3 Comments on Turkey Disaster ! ?, last added: 12/2/2012
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16. Dear Mr. Henshaw - A Classic by Beverly Cleary

Dear Mr. HenshawYou may know Beverly Cleary as the author of books about Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby and her family and friends on Klickitat Street. Did you know she is also the author of Dear Mr. Henshaw, for which she won the John Newbery Medal in 1984. This 160-page novel, recommended for ages 8 -12, is both poignant and amusing. To learn more about this classic children's book, read the review of Dear Mr. Henshaw.

(Cover art courtesy of HarperCollins)

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Dear Mr. Henshaw - A Classic by Beverly Cleary originally appeared on About.com Children's Books on Friday, November 23rd, 2012 at 23:38:40.

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17. Otto Fishblanket's Summer Sale

Hello, all!
Otto Fishblanket here! I am running the show from now on. Gerald Hawksley has gone for a little, ahem, break. Don't expect him back anytime soon.

First off, I am having a summer sale of Mr Hawksley's ebooks. I am in the process of reducing them all to 99 cents. As no-one is buying his pathetic rubbish any way I don't expect this to make much difference.

Into the bargain bin they go.

I am going to publish my own ebook, and it will be better than his and only cost 99 cents to start with. I have to get him to illustrate it, though, unfortunately, as I cannot afford a proper illustrator.

Goodness knows what rubbish he will come up with.

By the way, if any of you good folk are considering Christmas purchases from Amazon.com, if you do so via the Amazon links on this blog a small percentage of the purchase price will go to Mr Hawksley, at no cost to you. There is no incentive for you to do this.

He is a decent enough chap, really. He just doesn't apparently have any semblance of a grip on reality.

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18. Samsung 9 Series - Enchantment of the Second Generation

Continuing premium laptop models, Samsung Notebook Series 9 products appear more lean but more intense.

Every time Apple releases a phenomenal product, Samsung Notebook tried to emulate in many ways. However, Samsung emphasized that product differentiation is not accused of Korean origin often imitate. After the presence of earlier generations 9 Series a compelling thanks to its thin body, into 2012's successor increasingly slim Series 9 comes with a new power Ivy Bridge processors.

Notebook Samsung 9 Series

This time series 9 (type-A02ID NP900X3C) comes with a thickness of only 12.9 mm thinness beat 9 series premiere that reaches a thickness of 16.3 mm. If the first time I saw it, you probably would not believe that this is a laptop. When stacked with some of the magazine, the series is seen not prominent 9 / no difference. However, we do not have to worry about his physical endurance. This is because Samsung put a outer layer duralumin stronger than regular aluminum. This material is commonly used as the material plane.

If in the earlier part of the series I / O ports are covered to make it look neat on purpose, in this second version where the port is allowed to be seen and is positioned at the thickest area on the side of the laptop. Due to the slim design, the number of available ports tend minimal. Nevertheless, it already includes many important connections such as audio-video, USB, up to LAN (although some require mounting adapter / dongle).

Some things in the new Samsung Notebook Series 9 is actually somewhat interesting as a 13.3 "that looks like a 14". This is thanks to the existence of a system called Max Screen. This system makes the screen (bezel) look narrower. The display screen is quite shiny as Samsung use HD + SuperBright screen looks sharper than competitors. However, this screen does not cause a rebound effect / reflection.

Armed with this new power Intel Core i third generation (Ivy Bridge),  Samsung Notebook Series 9 does look more ready to run a variety of applications. The existence of SSD storage device also allows system booting process only takes 9.8 seconds. This computer can even instantly ready to use in just 1.4 seconds from being in bed (sleep). And do not worry if your system suddenly having problems because the manufacturer has set up a rescue solution (recovery).

Samsung Notebook  Series 9 is available in screen sizes of 13.3 "(worth Rp13, 5 million) and 15" (about Rp15 million) would be ideal for those who need a laptop as thin as possible for travel. Despite the lack of visible physical facilities, an array of features the system will make you aware of the capabilities of this laptop than its physical size.

Intel Core i5-3317U (Dual-Core 1,7 GHz, 3 MB Smart Cache)
4 GB, DDR3
Intel HM75
graphics card
Intel HD4000
Optical drive
Tidak ada
Wi-Fi b/g/n, LAN, card reader (4-in-1), Bluetooth 3.0, USB 2.0 (1), USB 3.0 (1), micro-HDMI, Webcam 1,3 MP
13,3” resolution1600x900 pixel
sound card
Realtek ALC269
Operating System
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
Li-ion 6 sel
31,4x21,9x(1,1-1,29) cm
1,16 kg
3 Years
Situs Web
Price (range) *
Rp13,5 juta

Notebook Samsung 9 Series
Port similar to HDMI connection is actually a plot output to a VGA port. Required dongle / converter RGB (available in the package) to use it.

Notebook Samsung 9 Series
Group Setting
Setting laptop easier through Samsung's Easy Settings provided that ordinary users can understand simple information via laptop configuration.

Notebook Samsung 9 Series
Need Converter
Due to the sleek design, the presence of the LAN ports of this product should be modified in such a way that it required a special converter cable (supplied in the package) to get connected to the RJ-45 port.

Plus: Slim, lightweight, and sturdy; boot faster.
Minus: The physical facilities are limited, the price is rather expensive.

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19. Happy Thanksgiving from Harts Pass!

 A day late with this, but now that you've indulged in your Black Friday binge you can sit back and remember what Thanksgiving is really all about... Thankfulness, friends, and Football! Much Thanks to the entire Methow Valley for being such an excellent place to call home, and three cheers to Kent Woodruff (not pictured here) for logging at least a down or three in his 51st annual Turkey Bowl :)

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20. Literary Contracts

What are the many things to look at in your book contract. 


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21. Call for Poetry Submissions: burntdistrict

burntdistrict is now accepting poetry submissions for our third issue to be published Winter/Spring of 2013. We're excited to promote this issue as well as issue 2 at AWP Boston.

Visit our website to submit up to 5 previously unpublished poems through our online submission manager. Hard copy and e-mailed submissions will not be considered. Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please notify us immediately when your work is accepted elsewhere. Include complete contact information on every page of your submission. A cover letter is appreciated but not required.

We have no restrictions as to form and content. Contributors will receive 2 copies of the issue in which their work appears.

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22. Call for Submissions: Museum of Americana

Between December 1st and December 31st, the museum of americana will accept submissions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, art, reviews, and interviews for Issue Two, set go live in mid January.

We seek work that showcases and/or re-purposes historical American culture. This is, of course, an enormous and diverse tub of spare parts, and we want to see if you can turn them into a hot rod. Give us fiction that dramatizes weird old folk songs or steals their characters. Give us love poetry that mixes language  cribbed from The Federalist Papers with language cribbed from WWII propaganda posters. We want medicine shows and riverboats, Doo-Wop and Duke Snider. We want aspects of Americana we may not have even heard of yet.

Please see Issue One and our complete guidelines for a clearer picture of our aesthetic.

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23. Call for Submissions: SPACES

SPACES, a new online magazine of art & literature is seeking submissions in all sections: literary videos, poetry, essays, artist interviews and profiles, and photo essays.

To learn more about SPACES, visit our website.

See our Guidelines.

The world’s just waiting for you to make and share your artistic SPACES. And so are we!

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24. Black Friday for the Doctor

A8aZZ7dCQAAUsyG.jpg largeEvery November for the last few decades, Doctor Who fans have gathered in Chicago to celebrate the world's longest-running Science Fiction TV show. The current incarnation of the event is called Chicago TARDIS and coincides with both the broadcast of the first episode on 23rd November 1963 and the American holiday of Thanksgiving.

This year the convention is marking the 7th Doctor' era with main man Sylvester McCoy (about to appear on the big screen as Radagast the Brown in Peter Jackson's new version of The Hobbit) and the lovely Sophie Aldred who played his companion, Ace (now voicing Tree Fu Tom, the hugely successful computer animated series on CBeebies).

Of course, most people in the UK will be familiar with the concept of Thanksgiving from US films and TV, but one thing I never knew about until I came for the first time last year is the mysterious shopping event known as Black Friday.

Every year many retailers in the USA slash prices by huge margins and open their doors at midnight on Thursday 22nd November and let the punters who have often been queuing around the block and in their hundreds storm the aisles.

This is nothing like our own rather tame January sales or the myriad mid-season sales that litter the high streets of the UK like Autumn leaves. No. There is a feeling of Mardi Gras to a Black Friday event. Last year I donned a Viking helmet to wait in a freezing line of jovial, upbeat Americans and enter into the merchandising madness, running up and this year was no different. Except for the headgear.

That's not to say this was any less crazy, with those who had waited patiently at the front of the line coming away with shopping trolleys full of electronic goods (huge LCD TVs being the highest badge of honour).  Later arrivals then strip the shelves of lesser  but still impressive bargains like a plague of locusts on retail therapy.

It's fun and frenetic and everyone has a good time (pictured above are the queues at Target, Westin, circa 11pm last night). The closest I can think of an equivalent in the UK is the pictures we used to see of Harrods Sale in which hundreds of bepearled ladies would vie for the finest furs and crash crockery into baskets in a peculiarly British frenzy of bargain hunting. Only, Black Friday seems so much more good natured.

This morning the Doctor Who convention begins in earnest and I'll be bringing you edited highlights as the weekend progresses. And if you think black Friday looks and sounds strangely eccentric, then you ain't seen nothing yet! Wait for the Doctor Who costume pageant on Saturday night...

Richard Dinnick

Richard Dinnick is a writer of TV, comics and books who has contributed to the Doctor Who and Moshi Monsters ranges that Penguin publishes including: Doctor Who: Alien Adventures, The 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Sticker Book coming next year. You can follow him on Twitter (www.twitter.com/richarddinnick) or find out more by visiting his website (www.richarddinnick.com).

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25. SkADaMo 2012 ~ Day 23

He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice.

Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice!


I missed a couple of days. Shoot, which list does that put me on?



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