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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1562 Blogs, dated 11/26/2012 [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 142
1. DESIGNER - louise harding

louise harding is a surface pattern designer who has just moved back to brighton from toronto. louise recently completed rachael taylor's online course 'the art & business of surface pattern design" and with her illustrations she aims for a soft feminine feel by mixing both traditional and digital techniques. louise loves interior design and decoration and especially enjoys creating designs

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2. WALLPAPER - wendy bray

wendy bray's career began at the prestigious courtauld textile design studio, following her graduation from art school in 1951. In this role she created furnishing and dress designs that mirrored the energy and optimism of post‐war Britain. 60 years on and wendy's designs have found a new voice thanks to the warner textile archive who this month have launched a collection of nine wendy bray

1 Comments on WALLPAPER - wendy bray, last added: 12/1/2012
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3. CALENDAR - my owl barn

my owl barn have put together their third annual calendar 'owl lover' 2013 calendar. it's a beautiful owl themed calendar that is a collaborative project between my owl barn and 43 artists from all over the world. the calendar can be downloaded for free from here and customised with your own pick of the 43 images available. these were my particular faves - above by sass & peril, below cally

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4. Write-Life Balancing

How does a full time writer organize their time? That’s what three author friends and I discussed at lunch on Sunday. Two have young children; the other woman and I started writing when our children were small, but they’ve now left home. She lives alone, whereas I have a husband (and a dog!) In other words, although we’re all full time writers, we all have different life demands to work around.

The main thing we agreed on was that you have to be prepared to use every available moment. Janne, a Danish children’s author, talked of once mapping out every available hour in the following three months, and managing to write a book in those stolen hours.

The distractions of working at home
People often say to me that they want to write a book when they have time. I think that if you need to write, you’ll find the time. My children were 4 and 7 the year I started writing seriously; I worked 3 ½ days a week, an hour’s drive away, and helped my husband on the farm when needed. There weren’t a whole lot of spare hours, but I grabbed what there were. The next year, when my daughter started school, I wrote solidly on my one full free day and frenetically on my free afternoon, about two and a half hours between getting home from work and school bus pick up time.

In fact, in some ways it was easier to remain focused then, because I knew how limited my time was. In the intervening days, I carried the stories in my head, planning the next scene, rewriting the last ones, gathering insights. When it was time to write, the words were ready and waiting to pour out.

It’s not always so easy when you’re always at home, always writing. The washing does need to be put on some time, so why not now? And there’s always another cup of tea to be made, and you might as well tidy the kitchen at the same time. It’s easy for a morning to disappear.

We’ve each used various ways to combat this: working at the library, in a café, even renting an office. Three of us are rigid about exercise routines, feeling we can’t write without them.
In the end, it all comes down to choice. Writing may be a vocation, but it’s also a job. A very strange job, but still a job: 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration, as someone said. You have to fit in the time for the sweating part/ 

But the other side of it being a job, is that paid employment has days off: weekends, public holidays, vacations. So once writing becomes full time employment, instead of a hobby, we need to remember to take some time off too. Decide not just how many hours a week to work, but how many to take off. That can be a much tougher discipline than finding the time to write. Maybe I’ll blog on that part when I’ve worked it out. 

2 Comments on Write-Life Balancing, last added: 12/2/2012
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5. Holiday Nesting

The other day I opened my patio slider and besides the surprise of cold air slapping my face, I noticed something unusual.

All along the crevice of my house was a border of white sand. Upon closer inspection, I realized something had tunneled between the brick pavers and my house. Suddenly a gutsy little lizard skittered across my path. My heart tripped with delight. He was nesting in for the winter. Why delight?

Because scorpions try to get inside the house in winter, and they make terrible bedfellows. However, lizards eat scorpions, and it appeared that I was going to have my own little sentinel. By the looks of him--he only sported half a tail--he was a fighter. Wahoo!

If you're thinking, lizard--yuck--I've found them harmless ever since the incident. Years ago, we'd returned from a family camping trip and I was emptying the dirty clothes bag. Out popped a lizard that ran up my leg. You can imagine the scene. But afterwards, it left me a bit endeared to them. They don't bite and only tickle a little.

On the other hand, I've been stung by a scorpion.

It felt like I'd slammed my hand in the car door.

I despise them.

Living in the Sonoran Desert, Phoenicians are last to winter nest--but I'm doing that now. Besides preparing for the holidays--which means kicking up a bit of my own sand and sweeping out the cobwebs for company--I'm smack in the middle of plotting a three book historical fiction series. I'm in a time crunch, getting the requested proposal to my agent.

So I'm going to hibernate this blog, just for a little while.

I'll be back in January.


Embrace Life & Happy Holiday Nesting.

Please drop by to chat!

Email me, using the blue tab on right side bar.

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6. Review: Down to the Bone. Oedipus Rey. On-Line Floricanto Ultimate in November 2012

Second Time’s a Charm. Review: Mayra Lazara Dole. Down to the Bone.Tallahassee FL: Bella Books, 2012. ISBN-13: 9781594933172 

Michael Sedano

Back in 2008 and 2009, La Bloga wrote enthusiastically about a Young Adult novel, Down to the Bone, detailing the heartbreak of a girl exploring her sexuality in the worst way: outed by a viciously evil high school teacher, ostracized by childhood friends, and thrown out of her little brother’s life when Shai’s mother kicks the daughter out of the house. “Don’t come back until you like boys, degenerada” is the mother’s curse.

Bella Books, a dynamic “publisher of vibrant and irresistible fiction for and about lesbians” has not republished the out-of-print title but instead has given Mayra Lazara Dole the opportunity to let the book grow up from YA to literary fiction. Although the publisher continues to class the novel as YA, Down to the Bone is a book for parents, relatives, and young readers.

The book keeps readers on edge. The retrograde attitudes of the mother and several of the supporting characters are constant reminders of all the ways US society, and in this case, Cubans in Miami’s US society, practice blind intolerance. Can they be overcome? Down to the Bone tells how Shai rebounds from ugly abuse to nest in the warmth and love of gente who love Shai for the content of her character and her spirit, who don't need to forgive her for whom she loves.

Dole’s characters introduce a broad range of sexual identities. The enthusiastically herterosexual best friend Soli, Soli’s boyfriends du jour, and her mother, Viva, define Love. Soli and Viva throw open their home and their arms unconditionally to the rejected kid. Marlena—Shai’s only lover—is terrified her parents will learn she likes girls. Confused and ultimately dishonest, Marlena marries her parents’ chosen mate. She comes back looking to rekindle the flames but Shai looks for honesty in people and Marlena proved herself heart-breakingly confused and ultimately dishonest.

Lazer’s story adds yet another edge to the novel. Dole invariably elects male pronouns to describe the boi, who comes on to Shai with desire. But, while Shai finds Lazer’s genderqueerness attractive, he’s not Shai’s preference and Lazer regretfully moves on. They can be friends, just friends.

Some of the abuse Shai suffers comes self-administered. She’s just sixteen. Confused by her mother’s absolutism, Shai throws herself into faking it, taking a boyfriend in hopes she will learn to love him and thus change into someone her mother will welcome home. When Shai realizes the immense damage she does to the hetero boy—who's a real jerk--it helps push her over the Niagra Falls of deception she’s been riding toward a precipice.

Shai makes attempts at hetero play--sex games without "going all the way"with the putative boyfriend. But that life is a lie that Shai can’t stomach. Shai heaps guilt upon herself because she understands pretending to be heterosexual is just another lie, and she’s already lost a lifetime of friends who had no idea Shai is a…

A what? Shai’s confusion and mom-induced guilt leads the child to reject labels that fly everywhere. Gay. Lesbo. Lesbian. Tortillera. Faggot. Dyke. Hetero. Lezzie. Dole skillfully plays out Shai’s labelling perplexity, using that as a signal of Shai’s growing health. When Shai finally breaks through that lexical wall to call herself “lesbian”, a new Shai emerges: self-accepting and unrelentingly honest, lovingly out of the closet and finding her way into her new society.

With acceptance comes freedom. Difficult, painful freedom in some ways, but grandly liberating in the best ways. Finding and building strength upon her decisive self-assurance, Shai confronts and explains the facts of life to the unrelenting mother and sets the terms of their ongoing relationship.

Down to the Bone is not a morality tale--though readers will find that. Dole's crafted a cautionary coming of age story that says a person is entitled to whatever happiness she can create. It says we live in parallel worlds, the gay world, the haters world, the world of the rest of us. Some of us pass back and forth into those worlds while others shut themselves and others out. All own the consequences of their acts.

When a parent or classmates make it a point to bully or punish a gay offspring, that is hurtful and absolutely unjust. Because Shai is no longer in the home, her little brother will fall behind in school and suffer the consequences of an education deficit. Shai abandons schooling to work full-time in landscape design, thinking she can autodidact higher education and forge a career. In order to force her mother’s acceptance, Shai blackmails her mother, threatening to tell mom’s rich new husband the whole story and redefining the mother-daughter relationship to something inherently unhealthy.

Bella Books lists a growing catalog to enjoy. Visit the publisher's website to order the book in paper or ebook, or to get the details so your local independent bookseller can order as many copies as you'll need to read and share with friends.  Down to Bone brings not only enjoyment but a vitally important story not to be missed.

News from the email bag
Oedipus el Rey in the Northwest

This time, it’s Seattle’s turn to share Luis Alfaro's version of Oedipus tyrannos, its chicano version Oedipus el Rey, coming to Seattle's eSe Teatro in early December for an abbreviated run.

La Bloga has enthusiastically followed Alfaro’s retelling. Alfaro curses today’s pintos and street gangsters with the core of Sophocle’s Athenian tragedy. In the version I saw at Malibu Getty in 2008, the concept stunned me with its revolutionary stance. That Getty production was exquisite.

Bloguera Olga Garcia found the experience of Oedipus el Rey scintillating when she joined a 2010 Pasadena audience for a characteristically limited-run on a tiny stage.

The play remains a work-in-progress. When it’s completed and ready for the main stage downtown, Oedipus el Rey will be sublimely historical and undoubtedly award-winning.

La Bloga welcomes guest reviewers. If you're among those who get to enjoy this performance, please let La Bloga share your experience

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto 

“America I Need To Talk To You” by Diana Lucas Joe

"Volcanoes Here Speak Up! / Los volcanes aquí toman la palabra" by Francisco X. Alarcón

“Nameless” by Joe Navarro

“Why Do You Cry, Mother?” by Ramon Piñero

America I Need To Talk To You.
by Diana Lucas--joe

America, I need to talk to you.
I need to tell you what I see.
I see you go wild.
Going out to other places.
Acting all big.
I ask you to stop!
Sit down!
This is not going to be easy.
I want to begin by saying I love you.
I always have, since I was little.
I wore my hats for you.
I sang my songs of you.
Oh! How I Celebrated you!
But I need to tell you that I will not tolerate your insensitivity.
You go to other places and stay too long.
Killing, killing.
Shame on you.
You have become too filled with vanity.
Others celebrate you grandly too!
Haven't you had enough?
Sit down!
I speak truly to you, as it is all I ever did for you.
I am not just a number in your books.
I refuse to be just that anymore.
I am going back to my father, the sky.
I am living with my mother, the earth.
I needed to tell you that.
You can change too, America, you really can.
Come back.

by Joe Navarro

Nameless...eaten by weather
And animals litter the desert
They previously had names and
Families, people who loved them
Who said, "Goodbye," perhaps
With a blessing, sharing in
The hope of a new beginning
But that all evaporated somewhere
Between disorientation, hopelessness
And futility, or disillusion
Voices and memories washed away
In tears that smelled impending
Death, which screamed in
Hunger pangs and sandy swallows
One final memory of family and
Friends escorted their dreams
Across the final border

--Joe Navarro
© Copyright 2012

Why Do You Cry, Mother?
by Ramon Piñero
 She birthed
both; dark
hair, dark
eyes, a
joy to
any father

She watched
as they played
sand castles
at the beach'
innocently, but
(as children
are wont to
be) exasperating

as time
between them
stones grew
where once
there were
moss covered
their tongues

further than
far and
stranger than
the brothers
they no
longer spoke
now than
when they
were young

their castles
by moats
filled with
broken promises

to speak
the peace,
distort the

The adversary
between them
uses mortars
of hate as
bulding blocks
making larger
with higher

and with
stones where
their ayes
once were
and tongues
with moss
the entreaties
of the dead
and dying
go unheeded

their mother
birthed them
both, with dark
hair and dark
any father would
be proud

now they
are like the
grains of

stones where
there eyes
once were
covered in

when they
the shrieks
drown out
their words
the adversary
gains new
and little
reach back
chasing their
back to
peace of


A mother
cries out
a father
rends his
their children
are dying
and the
with a
knowing smile
slinks through
the underbrush
and preaches
from the
the minaret
the pulpit

a mother
birthed them
a proud

but stones
grew where
once their
eyes were’
their tongues
once sang
odes to joy;
songs of
now covered
in moss
sing no more

their eyes
gleam no
the wonder
of being, the
lantern of
life, slowly

the adversary
smiles knowingly
soon he shall
add to his

“America I Need To Talk To You” by Diana Lucas Joe

"Volcanoes Here Speak Up! / Los volcanes aquí toman la palabra" by Francisco X. Alarcón

“Nameless” by Joe Navarro

“Why Do You Cry, Mother?” by Ramon Piñero

Diana is a grassroots barrio Chicana poet and writer, song writer and composer from Brownsville, Texas. Born in 1960 to a generational migrant family, she grew up in federal housing projects in South Texas, attending public school there, as well.

She enjoys writing poetry on Chicano and indigenous peoples' political and social issues. She has been writing since age eight. Her writing began as she was a community advocate for those with community members limited in English reading, writing, or conversational skills. She writes about Mexican American International Border Issues, and has been inspired to do so because of the ever present border and migratory upset with communities in these territories she calls ancient corridors.

Diana's work has been published in numerous local, state and city newspapers, college newsletters, magazines, and books throughout the border states in the US. and Mexico. She is an activist for indigenous people's rights from the US, Mexico, and the world. Her favorite quote published in the Brownsville Herald in 2006, as she did a hunger strike along the banks of the river there, against H.R.4437 was, ''The Earth Was Made To Contain All Of Us!"

Francisco X. Alarcón, award-winning Chicano poet and educator, is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poemas para el Nuevo Sol/Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He is the creator of the Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070.

Joe Navarro is a literary vato loco, teacher, poet, creative writer, husband, father and grandfather who currently lives in Hollister, CA. Joe integrates his poetic voice with life's experiences, and blends culture with politics. His poetic influences include the Beat Poets, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Alurista, Gloria Anzaldua, Lalo Delgado and numerous others. You can read more from Joe at www.joenavarro.weebly.com.

Ramon Piñero. "Ex Bay Area poet living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, aka Florida. Where good little boys and girls grow up to be republicans who vote against their own interest. Father of three and Grandfather to six of the coolest kids ever.

0 Comments on Review: Down to the Bone. Oedipus Rey. On-Line Floricanto Ultimate in November 2012 as of 11/30/2012 8:39:00 PM
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7. Gift Idea - Everything-Princesses + a $40 Giveaway

Due to sickness and holiday travel, I didn't get a chance to complete my week of thanks.  I don't want to leave anyone out, so I'm going to continue the next couple of days.  Today is all about my 3 year old Bid.  She is thankful for everything princess - princess dresses, playing dress up, princess movies, everything!

To celebrate her, I found the perfect site for today's feature.

Gift Idea - Everything-Princesses

We have a lot of Princess Dress Up clothes.  Or so I thought until I saw the collection on their site.  Bid prefers to wear a dresses.   But as she wears them everywhere, I prefer pettiskirts and tutus that she can slip on over her pants.  Even though princesses clothes are typically pinks and purples, Bid's favorite color is orange.  When I saw this fuscia/orange pettiskirt, I knew it was made for her.

She love, love, loves this skirt.  It's cute.  So far its proved durable.  And it's shiny!  My only concern is that the sizing says one size fits most, 3-8 year olds and it's too tight, for my 6 year old (who is small).  I would definitely say its for younger girls.

Also something missing from our collection, is a really good cape.  A couple of years ago, Kik wanted to be a queen for Halloween, and she wanted a nice royal red cape.  We found a bunch that would be perfect for a red riding hood costume, but none looked regal enough for a queen.

Their red satin cape that fits the bill.  It's satin, and soft like most red capes.  But it also has a nice furry trim that makes it look more royal.  My 3 year old is tall, and it only comes about an inch off the ground.

To Buy - The red satin cape retails for just 12.99, and the fuscia/orange skirt retails for just $19.99.  Find this and more princess gifts at everything-princess.com.  For special deals and discounts, you can connect with them on facebook and twitter - @OnlyPrincesses.

To Win - Everything-Princesses is giving away a $40 gift card to one of you!

To Enter Complete any of the entries on the rafflecopter form below.  Open to US - No PO Boxes.

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

26 Comments on Gift Idea - Everything-Princesses + a $40 Giveaway, last added: 12/11/2012
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8. Ellen Holgate to join Bloomsbury Children's

Ellen Holgate To Join Bloomsbury

as reported in The Bookseller:

Ellen Holgate is to join Bloomsbury Children's Books as editorial director for fiction in the new year. Holgate, who is currently senior editor at Hodder Children's Books, will report to children's publishing director and international editor-in-chief Rebecca McNally. McNally said: "Ellen is a real rising star in children's fiction. Her passion, creativity and excellent taste in books are matched by high ambition for her authors and strong commercial sense. "She's the perfect fit for Bloomsbury as we reinvigorate our fiction frontlist and reinvent the many wonderful gems on our backlist." ... Holgate begins at Bloomsbury on 21st January 2013. She has previously worked at Walker for seven years, and has worked closely with authors including Patrick Ness, Hilary McKay and Ruth Warburton.

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9. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Steve Light

(Click to enlarge)

I’m slowly inching my way toward the holidays. I have to ease my way in, given the rampant commercialism. (Am I just a grinch for letting it wear me out? I guess that’s a question for another day.) But I do gladly share above this work-in-progress image from Steve Light’s The Christmas Giant, released by Candlewick in 2010. (I covered it here at 7-Imp a couple years ago, if you’d like to see some final art from it.)

Steve is visiting this morning in what is—triumphantly (to me anyway, since I’ve missed them)—the return of the 7-Imp breakfast interview! I got really super swamped with manuscript revisions for a bit there, so I haven’t done a breakfast interview in a while, but for now I’m back to a normal (for me) schedule. For this, I roll out the red carpet for Steve.

Steve tells me way more about his career below over breakfast (”truck-stop” eggs), and he shares lots of art, for which I thank him. His very latest picture book, also released by Candlewick (October), is the charming story of a young girl, named Zephyr, who loved airplanes and one day hoped to fly one of her own. (Yes, it makes me happy that this little girl is into planes, and guess what? Her dad also wears an apron and cooks, and her mama is the one in the shop—or maybe it’s a garage—with tools repairing things. Take that, gender sterotypes.) I couldn’t sleep at night if I gave away the entire story of Zephyr Takes Flight, in case you want to read it for yourself, but it’s an entertaining story that tips its hat to more than one kind of flight (actual flight, as well as flights of the imagination) and brings us an irrepressible picture book protagonist in the free-spirited Zephyr.

And Steve’s swirly, elongated lines and playful perspectives and proportions are perfect for this tale of flight. Let’s get right to it so that we can see more artwork. (more…)

11 Comments on Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Steve Light, last added: 11/30/2012
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10. ABFFE Children's Art Auction

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) will be holding a Holiday Ebay auction of Children's Art by notable illustrators (click here for their press release). One of my signed giclée prints (shown below) from "Groundhog Weather School" will be among the works auctioned.

Update: The auction is on now and goes through December 3, 2012. Click here or on the logo above to bid on wonderful children's art, or for the direct link to my piece click on "Reasons for Seasons." Thank you for your support!

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11. Music Monday - Over You

This has been my favorite live performance on The Voice this season thus far:

0 Comments on Music Monday - Over You as of 11/30/2012 8:21:00 PM
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12. Q&A with Author C.M. Gillott

Today, Kid Lit Reviews welcomes C.M. Gillott, author of Nelson ‘N Deck: How the Adventures Began. ………………… ………………………… C.M. Gillott Nelson ‘N Deck and Friends: How the Adventures Began 48 Pages  Ages: 4 to 9 ………………………… .Hi, Chris. Welcome to Kid Lit. Please tells us, who are Nelson and Deck? Nelson ‘n’ Deck are the [...]

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13. November’s Featured Author – Ann Rinaldi

ANN RINALDI is our November winner for Featured Author.  She is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. She started writing as a newspaper columnist in 1969. Ms. Rinaldi attributes her interest in history to her son, who enlisted her to take part in historical reenactments up and down the East Coast. She lives with her husband in central New Jersey and has been writing historical novels for young adults since 1980.  Her book Term Paper started it all and since then she has published 52 novels.

Below are a few interview questions I asked Ann to answer:

Once you started getting book published did you still get rejections?


How many different Publishers have you worked with?

Seven – Scholastic, Harcourt, Holiday House HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hyperion, and Walker.

Did you ever have an editor call you up and ask you to write a novel about a certain event in history.

Yes. Scholastic asked me to write about a girl who went off to fight as a soldier. I wrote “Girl in “Blue.”

What was the biggest award that you won? 

“Best of the “Best” for “Wolf by the Ears” I believe it was for the best YA. novel in 25 years.

How often do you write?

I write every day, usually I start writing in the morning at nine and continue until two in the    afternoon.

Do any of your stories follow a real life person in history?

Yes, one of those books is OR GIVE ME DEATH a novel about Patrick Henry’s Family.

Do people come up to you and say you should write a story about a little know piece of history?

No, not many people, really. I find that most people don’t really care for history.

Do you plot your books, before you start writing?

No. I sketch it out in my mind, as far as the history goes, but as for the actions of the characters, usually they take over and I let them.

Do you ever do character sketches before you start?

No. Because, as I said, except for how they look, they soon take over and lead me around by the nose, as if I write them out of character they soon let me know it.

How much time do you spend on revisions after completing you first draft?

Not much, because if a chapter isn’t right, I know it right away, and I don’t build the rest of    the book on a bad chapter.

Have you ever belonged to a critique group?

No. I don’t like to share my work before it is published.

Do you still do school visits?


How long does it take you to write a book?

Six months.

Do you have an agent?

I have had agents over the years, but I don’t have one at this moment.

How many of your 52 books are still in print?

I’d say about 40 are still in print. Many just in paperback.

Do you still get excited when one of your books comes out?


Do you keep a journal of ideas that come to you?

Yes. Always

What are you working on now?

Can’t discuss that. But I just finished a book about Alice Liddell who was the girl about whom Charles Dodgson (Leweis Carroll) wrote “Alice in Wonderland” and how his writing the book about her changed both their lives forever.

Do you have any words of wisdom that you can share with other writers?

Yes. It is not an easy life-writing. But write if you must, because it is, indeed, a wonderful life, to put your words and ideas and experience and dreams down on paper and share them with others.

Talk Tomorrow,


Filed under: Author, Book, Interview, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Alice In Wonderland, Ann Rinaldi, Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons, Harcourt, HarperCollins, Scholastic, Walker Books

5 Comments on November’s Featured Author – Ann Rinaldi, last added: 11/30/2012
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14. Tuesday Slices

I’ve been reading Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli’s new book, Poetry Mentor Texts: Making Reading and Writing Connections, K-8.  They have a reminder, on page five of their book, that is worthy of repeating… Read More

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15. Tuesday Slices

I’ve been reading Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli’s new book, Poetry Mentor Texts: Making Reading and Writing Connections, K-8.  They have a reminder, on page five of their book, that is worthy of repeating… Read More

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16. PiBoIdMo Day 27: Melissa Sweet Plays at Work

This month has been a brilliant crash course in Picture Book Ideas 101. Here it is day 27 and by now you have a myriad of ideas (or one) that you’re excited about. What’s next? How do you begin to flesh out these ideas and keep your enthusiasm up?

Taking classes and doing things like PiBoIdMo rearranges how I think about what I’m doing. A number of years ago, wanting to learn more about collage, I took a class. Adding collage to my art was fun, with the right amount of devil-may-care messiness. It felt like playing—pushing bits of torn paper, letting interesting juxtapositions happen. As the class was winding down, the students wondered how could we bring this same sense of ease back into our studio work. Being in the studio felt like I was supposed to accomplish something. Could something this easy count as “work”? Our teacher said to us, “If you’re in your studio, you’re working.” Whoa! Even when you’re sitting around drinking tea and looking at picture books? Yep. What a great concept! But was it true?

Soon after taking that class, my editor agreed on a picture book idea I had proposed to write and illustrate. My foray as an author was to rewrite Little Red Riding Hood, a story with a ready-made plot. I named my main character Carmine, after the purpley-red color.

The day came when (with a contract signed and dated), I had to begin. I sat at my desk and wrote: “Once upon a time a girl named Carmine…” Hmmm. What was Carmine going do? Who were the other characters? How would she get to Granny’s? I was stumped. A few more forgettable sentences followed. That was enough writing for one day.

Was I working? I was in my studio, so, yes. As I was doing it, it was impossible to know if each exercise would be useful, but it didn’t matter.

After playing, there was more to write about.

Months later, still moving at a glacial pace on Carmine, I made a list of 100 random words that I like: nincompoop, reckon and zillion and attempted to write the story using all 100 words–just as an exercise. It didn’t work at all, but I noticed I had the entire alphabet within that list. I plucked out those words and wrote the story as an alphabet book, (or an abecedarian–a subject told in alphabetical order).

Voila!, CARMINE: A LITTLE MORE RED came to life.

Later, when I was writing Balloons Over Broadway, I made toys and puppets to get to know Tony Sarg better.

More recently I gathered snippets of fabric to inspire the color palette of my next book making a Pinterest-esque wall, but in real time.

Pinned to that wall is this quote that gives me permission to do whatever I need to do when I begin to write or make art:

“I believe that the so-called ‘writing block’ is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance … one should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing.

It’s easy to write. You just shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing …I can imagine a person beginning to feel he’s not able to write up to that standard he imagines the world has set for him. But to me that’s surrealistic. The only standard I can rationally have is the standard I’m meeting right now … You should be more willing to forgive yourself. It doesn’t make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you’ve done it.”

—William Stafford, writer

What’s next for me is printing out the piboidmo posts and putting them in a notebook. I want to revisit them at my leisure far away from the black hole of my computer.

Then I’m headed to the studio where I’ll take my mom’s advice, as she told us a zillion times:

“Now, you kids go out and play!”


Melissa Sweet has illustrated many award-winning books. She wrote and illustrated CARMINE: A LITTLE MORE RED, a New York Times Best Illustrated, TUPELO RIDES THE RAILS and BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY which garnered the 2012 Sibert Medal. She illustrated A RIVER OF WORDS: The Story of William Carlos Williams, by Jen Bryant, a 2009 Caldecott Honor book. Jen and Melissa’s next book, A SPLASH OF RED: The Life and Art of Horace Pippen will be out January, 2013.

She collages up a storm in Rockport, Maine. See more at MelissaSweet.net.


Melissa is generously giving away a SWEET prize pack! You are eligible if you comment here *and* complete the 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge by taking the PiBo-Pledge in early December. You can win a signed copy of BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY, CARMINE: A LITTLE MORE RED, A Splash Of Red coloring pencils, plus whatever SWAG she can find. Remember, one comment per person. And good luck!

10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 27: Melissa Sweet Plays at Work, last added: 12/2/2012
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17. ReAwakened Blog Tour

ReAwakened by Ada Adams (Angel Creek #2)
Publication Date: November 27th, 2012

Book Description:
Becoming a vampire guardian was Dawn Fairchild’s ticket out of the Scarlet House. Fresh off a successful mission, life in Angel Creek should have been great. But when her sort-of-maybe-boyfriend, Sebastian, disappears on a quest to help a beautiful vampire from his past, Dawn finds herself amidst a web of danger, lies, and deceit.

Joining forces with Razor, an enigmatic rebel lacking both a verbal and a physical filter, and her band of Misfits—Brooke, Sophie, Hunter, and Seth—Dawn is thrust into a race against the clock to solve the mystery surrounding brutal Born kidnappings and come to terms with the sudden discovery of her own unique powers. With time ticking away and Born vampires’ lives in jeopardy, it quickly becomes evident that someone—or something—desperately wants Dawn and is willing to shed any amount of blood to get her.

Dawn has only one chance to face her demons and overcome all obstacles standing in her way as she embarks on the biggest mission of her life—one that threatens a deadly outcome for all involved.

Goodreads link to ReAwakened: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15731772-reawakened

More About the Author:

“Many people sing in the shower. I write scenes in my head and act them out.”
At the age of five, Ada read her first chapter book—Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. Ever since that moment, she developed an intense passion for stories and characters found within the pages of literature.
In her career as an actress and a writer, Ada currently spends most of her days immersed in imaginary worlds. Much like the characters she enjoys playing and writing about, Ada is a martial artist with a Black Belt in Shotokan Karate. She is also a big proponent of lifelong learning, and has attained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (it aids in creating characters with unique quirks!) as well as a Master’s of Science in Education.
Ada strives to bring a fresh voice and perspective to fiction. She has been writing creatively for many years, and is an editor of a global fashion/literary magazine called VEUX. ReVamped is her debut novel.
She lives in Toronto, Canada, and enjoys adventurous nature hikes with her adorable puppies Cara and Oreo.

Connect with Ada Adams:

Website: http://www.revampedbook.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ada_Adams

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/revampedbook

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5757476.Ada_Adams

Excerpt #1 -
Sebastian was the first to break our soundless stalemate. He moved in front of me. “Don’t you get it?” he asked, towering over me. “I can’t not worry, Dawn.” His eyes pierced through me. “You planted yourself inside my head and now I can’t get you out.”
“You should.”
“I’ve tried, believe me.”
“Well, you should try harder,” I mumbled, my fury slowly fizzling away.
He shook his head. “I’m not sure that I want to. I like how you feel inside my head.” He ran a hand through his wet hair, then rested it against the open door behind me. The gesture caused him to lean forward, bringing him even closer.
Suddenly, all I could think about was the hard curve of his full, enticing lips.
If I just tilted my head slightly…
Snap out of it! my subconscious warned as I bit down on my lip.
“Those feelings you have are a lie!” I blurted out, pulling back. “It’s all because I gave you my blood and accidentally ingested yours. It’s like some kind of a Born-Made blood curse,” I said, though, this—whatever it was—felt nothing at all like a curse.
“Are you telling me that I must ignore every single thought that’s going through my mind right now?” he asked, moving closer.
I took a tiny step back. “Yes. Definitely.”
“What about my feelings?”
“Uh-huh. Those too.”
“Every one of them?” His voice was low and husky.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Fine.” He was saying one thing, but doing another, I realized, as he inched even closer.
“Good.” I retreated further into the partially open door.
The cool sensation of the wood soothed my burning skin. My back pressed against the door, forcing it to slam shut. Sebastian’s arm buckled under the sudden shift, sending him tumbling into me. He caught himself with his other hand mere inches before colliding with me, swiftly placing it on the other side of my head.
There was nowhere to run.
And even if I could escape, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to. My head spun as I soaked in the aromatic fragrance of his body. Soap and bare skin and something more severe. Icy. Dangerous. His breath held a hint of cool mint, and I was suddenly overcome with the desire to taste him. Trying to expel the thought, I bit down on my bottom lip, desperately pleading with my heart to still.
He’s the last person you should be thinking about kissing right now! the rational part of my mind screamed. The less rational part craved his lips and thirsted for his touch.
“Do your wounds hurt?” I asked in a frantic attempt to change the subject. I looked down at the light pink marks across his chest and arms.
“No. Do yours?” He cradled the back of my neck with his hand, gently trailing the two tiny fading scars with his thumb.
I shook my head and closed my eyes, losing myself in the sensation of his touch.
“Good,” he whispered.
An astounding wave of pleasure surged through my body as he pressed his mouth to the wound, igniting the memory of his fangs against my skin. He trailed tender kisses along the side of my neck, down to my clavicle, then back up toward my jaw. His lips grew more fierce and his kisses deepened as his mouth finally found mine. I parted my lips, pulling him tighter into me, forgetting all about my intention to fight him. His fingers slid through the belt loop of my jeans, grasping my hips, melting away the space between us. I entwined my hands through his damp hair, tugging gently at his curls while his hands glided under my tank-top, trailing across my abdomen to my back, sending shivers up my spine.
Somewhere amid the kisses, I remembered that I was supposed to be angry, but the thought quickly dissipated as he thrust me further into the door, running his lips across my skin. I gasped excitedly as the coolness of his hands alternated with the heat of his mouth; the clashing sensations vibrating rapidly through every inch of my body. I was trapped in a scorching inferno one moment, only to be plunged into the depths of an icy ocean the next.

- 3 winners (One grand prize winner +2 small prize winners)
- One main entry per person
- Must be 13 years or older to enter
- Open Internationally
- Winners will have 48 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen
Grand Prize Winner will win the following-

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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18. The best thing about being a writer

What's the best thing about being a writer? Apart from seeing your new book come out, that is?

We spend so much time closeted away in secluded isolation, locked into our own worlds like inmates of a virtual institution, that sometimes even seeing other real people seems slightly miraculous.

Going into schools, and meeting our readers, is even more like a dream come true, to find that the worlds we created have blossomed in other people's minds.

But every so often comes along an opportunity even better than this.

This time next week I will be in the Seychelles, with my wife, in the International School on Praslin.

students at the International School on Praslin, Seychelles
Students at the International School on Praslin, Seychelles
After a short period of acclimatisation, we will be running a two-week holiday workshop for children aged between 9 and 14.

I'll be teaching story-making and scriptwriting, and Helen will be conducting the music workshops.

The children, with our help, will devise the characters, theme, idea, story, for a half hour performance. They will write and rehearse the songs and, by the end of the fortnight will put on the show, which will possibly be filmed.

Our role is just to be facilitators; they are the creative geniuses who will come up with all the ideas, debate them, sift them, synthesise and develop them, eventually producing their own minor masterpiece.

Giant tortoise on Praslin
The school pays for the airfare, and we will be put up in hotels that are owned by one or two of the school governors. And maybe we'll find time to explore the beaches and meet some of the giant tortoises the island is famous for!

It's the second time I have worked in an International School. The last time was four years ago in São Paulo, Brazil.

That time, there were two, much bigger schools and they worked me really hard. But, while there, I was able to meet my Brazilian publisher and some fans. That was terrific.

I got the idea for applying to International Schools from Alan Gibbons, who quite often does such gigs.

They regularly employ writers, either as part of the term time curriculum or during holidays sessions, to conduct workshops with the children.

For them, having real writers come all the way from the United Kingdom to their spot of the world is in itself exotic. You will be treated like Queens and Kings!

If you fancy such a trip yourself, to a remote part of the world, or even somewhere closer to home, the best place to start is to search online for international schools in an area which you would like to visit, and write to them.

There is no real clearinghouse or centralised network for them, although many teachers who work in such places spend their lives moving from one exotic city to another.

The rather interesting shaped fruit of the coco de mer plants!
So, if you can't think of any other way you're ever going to get to a destination where there are white sundrenched beaches fringed with palms and dotted with turtles, coral reefs in bright blue sea that is 27°C, and is listed as a World Heritage Site because of its massive coco de mer plants (right) and black parrots, you can do worse than to start searching for international schools now.

Especially as we're approaching the middle of another cold, dark winter!

3 Comments on The best thing about being a writer, last added: 12/4/2012
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19. No One Is ‘Born’ a Runner: Don’t use ‘bad’ genetics as an excuse not to try

So often I’ve heard people lament, “I’m just not a runner.” Like it’s a fact, something you’re born with like red hair or green eyes, and there’s just no point in even trying to put up a fight. Lost cause, game loss on your end.

This actually kind of bugs me because I feel as if the people saying this are a bit disillusioned; like running is actually EASY for some folks just because they popped out that way. Fun fact: even for the most genetically blessed ‘runner body type’ running is anything but easy.
running animals
Though, without going off on a wild tangent there I’ll keep it short and say this: regardless of the genetics and body type stereotypes anyone who puts in the effort WILL improve. The awesome thing about running is that, ultimately, the biggest obstacle to overcome is self-motivation. [Haha...like that's an easy obstacle! I just mean you CAN always work on that one.]

I think a lot of people need the reality shock of ‘wow, this isn’t easy’ (and it’s not for anyone) and then to realize it comes down to YOU stepping up and gettin ‘er done. Genetics, yes, may ultimately decide just HOW fast you eventually get or how many miles you are healthfully able to put in, but the ability to improve rests in your hands…errr, legs.

Trust me, I’m the most coordinationally challenged person alive, not tall enough to dunk, not bendy like a gymnast, not graceful enough for dance…but dang it, I’m OCD and self-motivated, so running fits. With the drive and will ANYONE can be a runner.

That whole, “I’m just not a runner” thing is quite a tired excuse, don’t you think? ;)

1) What do you say to people who profess they just ‘aren’t a runner’?

2) Do you sometimes wish you could shout at them, “Ummm, what, do you think it’s just easy for some people?!” Hehe. Or, how do you react when someone says something flippantly along the lines of, “Oh, well you look like a runner” like they assume it’s something easy for you?

3) If you could pick out a genetic trait or physical attribute that you’ve OVERCOME to improve your running what would it be? As in perhaps this trait wouldn’t naturally set you up for being a ‘stereotypical’ distance runner. (ie: owl with short legs)

best running shirts

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20. Author/Illustrator Events, Nov. 27-Dec. 4

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We have two events for this busy week after Thanksgiving:

Tuesday, November 27, 7:00 p.m.
Blue Willow Bookshop
Ally Condie, YA Author

Ally Condie, author of the international bestseller MATCHED, and its sequel, CROSSED, will discuss and sign her new novel for young adults, REACHED.

Book:  In REACHED, Cassia faces the ultimate choices in the long-anticipated conclusion to the “New York Times” bestselling Matched Trilogy. After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

For important information about this event, please see Blue Willow Bookshop’s Special Events Page.

November 30, Friday, 7:00 p.m.
The Book Nook, Brenham
Marci Peschke, Children’s Author

During the Christmas Stroll from 7:00-9:00 p.m., stop in at The Book Nook and visit with Marci Peschke, author of the KYLIE JEAN series. From blueberries to beauty pageants, Texan second grader Kylie Jean wants to be the queen of everything! But in her quest to be the best, this young southern belle learns a few lessons of her own. Mischievous, delightful and fun, this series will be at the top of every young girl’s list! Series titles include:

Kylie Jean, Dancing Queen; Kylie Jean, Singing Queen; Kylie Jean, Spelling Queen;Kylie Jean, Football Queen; Kylie Jean, Blueberry Queen;Kylie Jean, Rodeo Queen;Kylie Jean, Drama Queen;Kylie Jean, Hoop Queen

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21. Not quite tiger tiger burning bright....

Attention holiday shoppers - if you want to laugh at the hilarity of extremely overpriced goods, then take a look at Jezebel's snarkalicious takedown of Anthropologie. I think the stores are beautiful - I've wandered through more than once - but lord, they charge a ton of money for really goofy things. (I read this piece right after paging past a $600 stuffed animal Piers Atkinson headband in a recent magazine. Three stuffed toys glued to a headband for $600. Wow.)

See "The Picture Letters" online exhibition of Beatrix Potter correspondence at New York's Morgan Library and Museum for some insight into how her creations came to life. (Holiday shopping alert - I strongly recommend the movie Miss Potter for fans. It's wonderful; she had a really amazing life.)

David Nicholls, screenwriter for the upcoming Great Expectations some things to say in the November British Vogue that give me great excitement for this film:

It is psychologically subtle and strange, and contains some of the most vivid characters in literature. It's a love story. Most of all, it's an intensely moving story; Joe Gargery's disastrous trip to London, Pip's final words to Magwitch, Miss Havisham's confession...These are wonderful emotional scenes. Dickens was writing with all his heart and at the peak of his powers. I hope we can do him justice.

Finally, all you Cyber Monday shoppers, don't forget the Ballou Library wishlist at Powells has been briefly reopened for the holidays, if you are so inclined. Happy Shopping!

[Post pic of Helena Bonham Carter from "Great Expectations".]

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22. Making Books Holiday-ish!

Ok, Thanksgiving has passed so I can officially put up the tree. We usually head out and find a live tree to put on our window seat. But this year inspired by Pinterest and clever librarians everywhere, I made a book tree. So here is my baby.

It's a little crooked but it has lots of our favorite books (Ulysses!  1001 Arabian Nights!). The advantage is it never needs water. The disadvantage is that I can't pull out books from it to read...I must be patient. Gack!

If you are looking for more bookishly holiday things to make, check out Book Riot's post here!

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23. Sony Readers Book Club

When I saw that Sony was introducing a new Readers Club and soliciting applications for 24 VIP inaugural members, I was pretty excited.  I figured it was a long shot, but the benefits were awesome and it was worth answering the questions about why I love to read.  So you can imagine I was pretty shocked to find out I was actually accepted as one of the members!

As one of the VIP members, I won a Sony Reader and cover, digital copies of the first four book club picks, and a trip to California in February to meet the other members and one of the book club authors.  My Reader came in the mail last week and I have used it almost non-stop since. 

Our first discussion book is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  We'll be discussing it this Wednesday, November 28th, from 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM PST (3:30 - 4:30 for me here in EST).  You can find the discussion on the discussion Facebook tab.

I'm super excited to be participating in this and I'm planning a big review of the reader itself later on.  For now I'll just say that I'm in love.  Look how pretty:

Sorry for the poor quality.  My cell phone camera is scratched and I'm stuck with blurry photos till I figure out if there's a way to fix it.  Anyway, this is my new baby.  I LOVE the red color, the light that came with the cover, and the ease of use.  I'm currently reading Black Dahlia and White Rose by Joyce Carol Oates on it, as well as Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  Hope you'll show up for our discussion on Wednesday!

Disclaimer: I want to be up front about what Sony is and isn't sponsoring on the blog, just so my readers are aware.  My gifts from Sony include the Reader and case, the trip to California, and the books for review.  My only obligations are to participate in the book club discussions and to show up in California for the in person meeting.  Any promotion I do regarding the book club, any reviews of the books I read for the book club, and any reviews of Sony products are still my honest opinion and not something Sony has asked me to provide.  Out of appreciation for my inclusion in the club, I'll be linking the books I read for the club to the Sony store, although I don't usually promote any one e-tailer over another.

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24. What I'm Reading: SHADES OF EARTH by Beth Revis

It's been a long time coming, but the final book in the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE trilogy is almost here! And because life is good, I've had an early look at the book!

SHADES OF EARTH by Beth Revis (Razorbill, January 15, 2013)

Here are Five Things I Have to Say About SHADES OF EARTH:

1) It's rare that I actually read the third book in a series these days. With so many new books being published all the time, for a series to draw me back again and then again definitely makes a statement.

2) Of the three books in the trilogy, SHADES OF EARTH is by far the best as far as the science and the story go. They are on the planet. Lots of things happen. And...

3) ...there is some cool science fiction going on in this story. Whereas the first two books in the series could be generalized under teen romance, SHADES OF EARTH definitely delves more deeply into the science of things. It gives us the answers to questions we've had since we picked up ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

4) Does everything end happy? Well, technically if I gave you the answer to that question, it would be considered a huge spoiler. So suffice it to say that if you've read books 1 and 2, you should definitely not stop there. Pick up SHADES OF EARTH and see how everything comes out.

5) Highly recommended for boys and girls, fans of romance and science-fiction, seventh grade and up.


Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.


Source of book: From publisher by request

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25. Where to start?

As many of you know, I love helping people get started with workshop. Here’s what I’m wondering tonight… What is the most important thing to know as a writing workshop teacher? I’d love… Read More

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