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1. Don’t Plot Like I Do!


Read on Wattpad - Serialized Novel

From September 11, 2014 - October 30, 2014.
Read one chapter/day. Click on cover to read the first five chapters.

I’m warning you! Don’t plot like I do.

I’ve been working on the plot of a new novel for about six weeks and I’m still stumbling around. I’ll describe the messy process here and hope that you manage to shortcut your own process.

It started last year with an idea and a short story that gave backstory on the longer story. I’ve wanted to write a sf for a while and this idea has been germinating for a long time. Besides the problem of other projects, there’s the question of audience. I had to grapple with taking creative risks.

Take Creative Risks

One creative risk was the type of story I would tell. Would it be a character story or an action/adventure story?

I plotted out something, but my left brain kicked in and compared the plot to the 29 Plot Templates Regardless of which plot structure I looked at, there were so many holes in the story.

I got advice from Optimus Prime. Hey, I take help where I find it and Optimus was obviously handing out advice on plotting.

By now, though, I was getting bogged down. What was the purpose of all this plotting? I had to remind myself that I was telling a story.

The next disappointment was the worry about how slowly the work progressed.

Listen. I know a lot about novel structure, characterization, plotting, setting and many other topics about novels. I teach this stuff. But when I write, I struggle through the writing process. One of my strengths, though, is that I am open to switching strategies. It’s also my weakness, but while I’m in the throes of plotting, I feel like I am jumping from this method, to that paradigm, to yet another novel structure. In reality, I’m just checking out my story from multiple POVs.
Impossible

A Sixth Grade Aside

When my daughter was in sixth grade, she wrote an essay. The teacher asked my daughter to write an evaluation essay about writing the essay. Write down the process you went through to write this essay, the teacher advised.

And I shook my head in despair.

No, there isn’t just ONE path through the writing process. It’s cyclical, curving back on itself to ask you to repeat this task or that task. Or perhaps describing it as a maze is a better metaphor. I follow false trails until they dead end. I get lost in the middle and can’t fight my way out. I start at the beginning one time and the next time, I start at the end. Somehow, though, the writing gets done. There are strategies, ways of approaching a draft, working habits, and so on. But for any given piece of writing, the process will vary and vary widely.

Messy Writing Process

This time, I’m doing well with trying to go from general to specific.

That got me to an eight-page outline. But the 29 Plot Templates revealed major holes. I realized that I needed to concentrate on sub-plots and figure those out before I returned to the main plot. I focused on the villain as the hero of his own story: why did he want revenge? I re-read articles about writing a revenge story and one comment struck me: “Killing him would be too easy.”

Of course! Revenge isn’t just about hurting or killing the person; it’s about making them suffer as the victim has suffered. I asked myself, “What would make my character hurt/suffer the most?” Of course, that is what I MUST make happen. Voila! A new plot twist grabbed me and I was off and running with the complications from that twist.

10 page outline. But still lots of plot holes.

Over the next few days, I’ll be looking at other subplots and milking them for all the conflict that I can. Will there be a romantic subplot? After an initial attraction, there needs to be deep reasons why they must stay apart. What reason is sitting there in my story already, just waiting for me to exploit it? It’s there. I just need an Aha! Moment to recognize it. I’m jumping all around, reading odd articles, re-reading the 10-page outline and looking for the right way to approach this.

I feel like I am being asked to carve a huge statue with a bobby pin.

I have at least three more subplots to work through and slot into the main plot. I’m sure there will still be plot holes then, but I expect there will be fewer.

Should I copy this process the next time I plot? No!
Each time, the writing process creates it’s own maze and demands a different path to story. I’m just trusting that the process will eventually spit out a viable story. I know that I’ll have to decide something about the audience and tone, and spend a while on characters and their back story. I know that some personal issues are likely to complicate the timing of the writing. I know I’ll make multiple starts before I really get going.

Don’t follow my writing process. It’s messy and ugly. Besides—it wouldn’t work for you. You must find your own way through the maze of words to find the story that only you can tell.

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2. She walks in sneezes, like the blight.

She walks in sneezes, like the blight.

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3. Call for Submissions: Sun and Sandstone

Sun & Sandstone, a national literary journal of undergraduate writing published annually by Rocky Mountain College, is now accepting submissions for its 2015 issue. Publishable genres include poetry, creative nonfiction, short fiction, and one act plays.

For complete submission guidelines, please visit our website.

Deadline: February 28, 2015

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4. Call for Submissions: Glassworks

Glassworks, the literary magazine of Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing graduate program, invites writers to submit work to be considered for publication.

Glassworks publishes nonfiction, fiction, poetry, hybrid pieces, craft essays, new media, and art both digitally and in print. We are currently reading until December 15, 2014.


More information about the magazine, sample issues, and our submission manager can be found at our website.


Submissions link.

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5. Call for Submissions: Psychopomp Magazine


Psychopomp Magazine, a journal devoted to genre-bending and experimental prose, is now open for free submissions.
 
Please read an issue or two to get a sense of what we're looking for. Surprise us. Ferry us away from the familiar. We like fiction and art. Please visit our website for more information.



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6. Summer to Fall

Milkweed seeds

Milkweed seeds

It has been a dry, almost summery week but last night we got a refreshing rain and today has been pleasant, sunny and comfortable. The tomatoes are still getting ripe, the pumpkins are still growing, the kale is very happy, and the turnips are trying really hard to make something of themselves. Otherwise, the garden is pretty much done. We haven’t had a frost yet so my garlic and I wait patiently for the right time to plant. In the mean time I keep changing my mind about where in the veggie beds I will plant it.

I did another ph test in my blueberry beds today and was once again disappointed. Try as I might, I can’t get the ph to drop. It is stuck at 7. We’ll add more sulfur and I’ll put down leaves once they fall from the trees, but come spring if the ph still hasn’t budged, Bookman and I will have some serious thinking to do. Keep trying or get rid of the blueberries and cultivate more currants and other berries instead. Fingers crossed it won’t come to that decision.

The anise hyssop is still blooming and covered with bees and over the last two weeks it has also been covered in monarch

Virgin's bower clematis

Virgin’s bower clematis

butterflies. I walked out one afternoon and counted eight of them fluttering around on it. Amazing! Bookman and I have decided we are planting a second one somewhere in the garden next spring. The pumpkin flowers are also attracting bees like crazy. This afternoon I saw three big fat bumblebees all crammed into one flower jostling for position.

And oh! During the week I looked out and saw a hummingbird at the red bee balm! I was so very excited because I chose it in order to attract hummingbirds and it worked!

Yesterday while sitting in my reading nest I glanced up at some movement outside my front picture window to see a female goldfinch chowing down on coneflower seeds. She was out there for a good ten minutes before I decided I just might be able to snap a photo. Sadly she saw me moving in the window and flew off. Then I felt really guilty about interrupting a meal she was so much enjoying. I kept hoping she would come back but I didn’t see her again the rest of the day.

Bookman got out the extension ladder to try and reach the big apples at the top of Bossy, but he only had limited success. They were still too high up on branches not strong enough to put a ladder against. So we will just appreciate what we could pick and have decided to invest in a long reach fruit harvester for next year. What we are going to do when we can reach all those apples way at the top, I am not sure. Apple pies, apple crisps, apple sauce, apple butter. I think I might have to learn how to make apple chutney which sounds so good. I might have to try that with the apples we have now. Yum!

This has got to be one of the nifitiest things ever: swallows that figured out how to use automatic doors (via Sociological Images)

And as I am reading a book about why our brains are programmed to ignore climate change, the largest climate change march in history took place today in New York City. An estimated 310,000 demonstrators showed up to demand action on climate change. In support, other marches took place around the world from Paris to Papua New Guinea. The United Nations is scheduled to meet on Tuesday in Manhattan for a climate summit. Is it too much to hope for that such an outpouring will actually spur world leaders and politicians to do something? Of course, we all have personal responsibility in the matter as well. Does such a gathering inspire you to make any changes?

Maple leaves

Maple leaves

One thing I wonder about, many people came from far away to attend the protest and with their transportation they have added carbon into the air. I hope they have done something to offset their usage, if not, that’s just sad, demanding action on climate change while contributing to the problem. Something to think about, especially for the people who came from far away countries to join in the march. Why not organize a march closer to home?

We’ll see what the UN does later this week. And following that, what each country is willing to do. I don’t have much hope but at the same time I can’t help but hope.

On a happier note, someone I know who lost a big tree in her backyard earlier this year has been inspired by all my gardening talk and has decided to get rid of the lawn and grow a prairie meadow. How awesome is that? When she told me I was thrilled and tickled silly. It’s been so hard to not pester her and ask her what she’s going to grow. I explained to her how to kill the grass. I’m hoping over the winter she will want to talk plants.

Autumn Equinox is Tuesday or Spring if you are down under. Be sure to celebrate. Take a walk, enjoy a seasonal treat, spend some time with your favorite tree or sitting on your favorite garden bench. Whatever you do, just take some time to enjoy the changing season.


Filed under: gardening

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7. Call for Submissions: Cooper Street Journal

Cooper Street, an online publication sponsored by the Rutgers University Camden MFA program’s student organization, is looking for fiction and poetry for our second issue, slated for a January release. All interested writers are welcome. Please send work as word documents (.doc or .docx) via email to:

ru.cooperstreetATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

using the following format for the Subject: “Last name – Genre.” We’re interested in stories and poems about cities, particularly those set in the Northeast. But we’ll consider all subjects if the work is interesting and strong. If you have creative non-fiction, we ask that you please save it for an upcoming issue.

Additional guidelines

Fiction: Send either one story of no more than 5,000 words (although stories of 3,000 words or less are especially welcome) or send up to three flash fiction pieces of no more than 600 words each.

Poetry: Send three to five poems as a single attachment, one poem per page.

Submitters may view our May 2014 issue at our website.

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8. It's Not About You...



"It's not about you.
It's not about you getting the love you deserve from someone else,
because I have loved you more than anyone else on this earth.
It's not about you demanding justice or forgiveness from anyone,
because I have shown you more mercy and forgiven you more than anyone else on this earth.
It's not about your future or your past.
It's about Mine.
Time is Mine.
The universe is Mine.
The earth is Mine.
The mountains and the sea are Mine.
The air is Mine,
and you are Mine, but.....
it's not about you....
it's about Me."

Jesus

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9. Will you join us for dinner?

RSVP by 10/31 if you plan to join us for the Slicer Dinner at NCTE.

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10. Holly White


A power happy mean girl entered my life on my first day of school. A day I looked forward to for what seemed like years. I watched my brothers from my bedroom window catch the bus, waiting for my day to arrive, and who do I meet the first day, Holly White.

I couldn't understand why other children cried at the bus stop and physically wrestled their parents on their first day of school.
I guess it was due to the fact that I watched my older brothers do it, and they manage to return safely, plus my mother read to us, and I was dying to learn how to read; I guess I was a weird kid.

I remember feeling overjoyed when I climbed the stairs on the school bus for the first time. My brother was instructed to walk me to my classroom, but of course he didn't, which was fine with me, because I was a big girl full of courage, that is until the bell rang, and I started crying and roaming around the school trying to find my classroom.

Then, a miracle happened, another student was also lost and she was with her mother, her name was Holly White, and from that moment on we were joined at the hip. We learned to read and write together, and spent every free moment talking about everything we knew about the world.



We went to all of the same birthday parties, joined brownies together, etc...Holly was one of the popular girls that every female first grader wanted to be associate with, or even join for lunch, and I was her side kick, wing girl, and slave.

For some reason, I didn't feel like I was likeable as myself, so I bragged about the one thing that most children went crazy over- My parents owned a boarding stables, taught riding lessons, and brought most of their boarders to horse shows, so the horses they owned as well as the other horses at our barn were not for children to ride. But, I had a Shetland pony we could ride, and I couldn't wait to tell Holly.




Well, naturally I thought Holly would be delighted to visit our barn, and impressed enough to maybe spend the night. So, one afternoon at recess, I mustered the courage to invite her using my parents stable as bait.

I remember what happened next like it was yesterday;

Holly and I were looking for a four leaf clover at recess, when I said,

"Holly, would you like to ride the bus home with me tomorrow? Every afternoon after school I ride with my mother to our barn. I have a Shetland pony, and we also have horses you can brush and sit on."

Holly's stopped looking through the clover, paused, fixed her dark brown eyes on mine as if she were my enemy, and replied,

"I hate horses."

Stunned, I began to think as fast as I pulled clover, and said, "Well, we also have chickens, dogs, cats, and a bunch of other animals. What kind of animals do you like?"

Holly thought for a moment, which seemed like a year, and said,

"Well, I like pigs. Do you have any pigs?"

Delighted, by the prospect of having a queen ride home with me on the bus, I said,

"Oh yes, we have lots of pigs, and we even have a pond for them to play in- When would you like to visit?"

"What about tomorrow?" Holly said. And of course I agreed, although I wasn't sure my mother would, especially on short notice, so I spent the rest of the afternoon practicing how to ask my mother. I felt like tiny slivers of ice were running through my bloodstream the rest of the day.

But, to my surprise, my mother said yes, and after a nights sleep, my day came to impress our school celebrity.

When my mother, Holly, and I arrived at our barn, Holly was amazed and impressed, even with the horses.

Then, she was ready to see the pigs at play in their pond.-

The pond was far back in the pasture, so Holly and I kept walking until the barn was out of sight.

Then, it happened, my mother started calling my name, "Ann, Ann, where in the world are you going?"

But, before I could answer, Holly said, "We're going to see the pigs!"

I felt as if I was melting, when my mother replied,

"Ann, we don't have any pigs! Now, come back to the barn this instant."






 -Today, I suspect Holly knew we didn't have any pigs, because she felt she would lose her power if she admitted she was impressed.  I like to write stories of the mistakes I made growing up because we all make the same ones. All of us have to deal with mean girls and boys- It seems to be one of the recipes of life. And this was my first one. I wonder where Holly White is today, and what kind of person she turned out to be. I bet she is a nice person today. Thanks for reading such a long story, I hope you enjoyed it-   Ann Clemmons






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11. Library Loot: Third Trip in September

New Loot:
  • Tumtum & Nutmeg Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn
  • Tumtum & Nutmeg The Rose Cottage Tales by Emily Bearn
  • The Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas
  • The Vicar of Nibbleswicke by Roald Dahl
  • The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
  • A Cat of A Different Color by Steven Bauer
  • The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
  • Scaredy Squirredl Makes a Friedn by Melanie Watt
  • Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt
  • A Time To Dance by Padma Venkatraman
  • West of the Moon by Margi Preus
Leftover Loot:
  • The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory
  • The Boneshaker by Kate Milford
  •  A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
  • Half A World Away by Cynthia Kadohata
  • Revealed by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  •  The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
  • Card Games for Children by Len Collis
  • Chambers Card Games by Peter Arnold
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath 
  • The Edge of Terror by Scott Walker
  • Until Our Last Breath by Michael Bart and Laurel Corona
  • The War of Our Childhood reported by Wolfgang W.E. Samuel
  •  The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson 

   Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries. 
 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. 5 mins quickies from last week ...


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13. New fabrics in my Spoonflower shop

Coming soon to my Spoonflower shop



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14. JZ Artworks has a New Look!

It's been a long time coming, but my website JZArtworks has a new look!  Thanks so much to my husband and personal web developer Romeo Zivoin for the beautiful new design, and for all of the UX coding to make this site more mobile-friendly.  Check it out!

www.JZArtworks.com

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15. Bubble Trouble by Tom Percival (and how to breathe bubbles instead of fire)

9781408838761Even before I had finished reading Bubble Trouble by Tom Percival to the kids I knew this was a book we were going to have LOTS of fun with.

Have you ever had great fun playing with a friend but discovered things have got out of control when you try to out-do each other? That what was a shared and enjoyable activity became something competitive and a little threatening?

Bubble Trouble explores exactly this scenario, with two best friends who like nothing more than blowing bubbles together. In their desire to blow the biggest bubble, they become very inventive but some skulduggery also sneaks in. Will their friendship survive their determination to outplay each other?

bubbletroublereading

Percival’s lovely book thoughtfully and playfully explores the up- and downsides of competition and the value of teamwork. It also acknowledges that we don’t always learn from our mistakes straight away, something I haven’t seen often acknowledged in picture books. The “big issues” are hidden carefully in lots of delightfulness; the illustrations are soft and sweet, and there are lots and lots of flaps to play with. Percival has worked wonders with capturing that magic sheen of bubbles without resorting to foil or silver but rather just clever use of pastels and white.

A good-natured and honest exploration of some of the trials and tribulations of friendship, Bubble Trouble offers lots of room for discussion and a great excuse to play.

So yes, having shared Bubble Trouble lots of playing with bubbles was called for. We thought we’d try something different and so I taught the girls how to breath out bubbles, big and beautiful bubbles. Who wants to breath fire when you can breathe out bubbles?

bubbles4.jpg

We used this recipe to make our bubble mixture:

  • 1.5 litres of tap water
  • 250ml of Fairy washing up detergent
  • 250ml of cornflour (yes, corn flour isn’t a liquid, but we used our measuring jug and filled it to the 250ml mark with the corn flour)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp glycerine (easily found in Boots/a chemist’s, probably in the sore throat section)
  • Once the bubble mixture was all stirred together, we left it for 24 hours. Everything I’ve read says that this stage is really important (though we haven’t checked what difference it makes ourselves).

    To breathe out bubbles here’s what you need to do:

    bubbles5

    1. Dip your hands into a bowl of tap water.
    2. Dip your hands into your bowl of bubble mixture. (The corn flour will probably have settled at the bottom of your mixture. This didn’t seem to be a problem)
    3. Rub your palms together smoothly and slowly a couple of times.
    4. Open out your hands to form a rough circle: Your fingertips and wrists/bottom of thumbs will remain touching each other, and you should see a film of bubble mixture form between your two hands.
    5. Gently blow through the opening between your two hands…..
    6. Gasp at your bubble blowing abilities!

    bubbles6

    You can also use this mixture to blow bubbles through a circle made using just your first finger and thumb (first make a fist, then slowly open out your finger/thumb before blowing), and also to make ENORMOUS bubbles using a home made bubble wand.

    bubbles2

    wandFor the homemade bubble wand you’ll need two lengths of dowelling. Screw an eye screw into each end and then put a large loop of string between the two eyes. It’s helpful to add a small weight such as a threaded button or a washer onto on side of your string loop.

    Dip your string into your bubble mixture (all the way, up to the start of the wooden rods), lift gently out and move the rods apart. You’ll see a film appear between the strings and then if you wave them from one side to the other you’ll create amazing bubble tunnels.

    bubbles1

    There’s nothing like a good bubble!

    bubbles7

    Whilst mixing up our bubble juice we listened to:

  • Bubble Factory by Recess Monkey
  • You and Me and a Bottle of Bubbles by Lunch Money
  • I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles by John Kellette but here sung by Vera Lynn
  • Other activities which you could pair with Bubble Trouble include:

  • Exploring the free activity pack to go with Bubble Trouble, downloadable from here. The pack includes colouring in, spot the difference and a different bubble recipe to try.
  • Painting with bubbles. Artful kids has 3 different techniques you could try.
  • Building and sculpting with bubbles. Did you ever sculpt with bubbles when you had a bubble bath?
  • Making bubble snakes, with this tutorial from Housing a Forest
  • Reading the marvellous Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar. We reviewed it here (with a different bubble juice recipe, but we think our new recipe is better).
  • What are your favourite books which feature bubbles?

    Disclosure: We received a free review copy of Bubble Trouble from the publisher.

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    16. ALSC Institute vs. ALA Conferences


    We all only have so much continuing education/professional conference funding - whether it's from our institution or our own savings accounts. And of course there are many possible ways to use that money when thinking about national conferences - not just for ALA sponsored events but for groups like USBBY, Think Tanks, NAEYC, Computers in Libraries, STEM powered conferences, unconferences, and much more.  Choosing what works best and balancing our choices is definitely a challenge. Though we want to attend all the things, it just isn't possible.

    Just off the end of the ALSC 2014 Institute in Oakland, I want to talk a bit about the differences in two of my favorite conferences.

    ALSC Institute:
    Held every other year at different venues around the country (next up Charlotte NC in fall 2016), this small intimate conference is focused, youth program heavy and -centric (16 unique sessions, plus at this year's Fairyland extravaganza, a choice of one of over a dozen other breakouts) and combines deep learning with great opportunities to hear from book creators/publishers.  This year, local and national authors in attendance and presenting or mingling numbered well over 40. That's quite an opportunity to speak personally with a book creator as well as hear their banter and thinking on panels!

    It sounds bizarre to say that a conference with 350 youth librarians is intimate - but it is. You spend Wednesday night through Saturday noon with the same group of people - at meals, sessions and social events.  If you choose to take advantage of it, you meet and share with a ton of colleagues as well as run into people IRL that you only work with virtually. One of the true advantages of these "regional" national conferences is that you get a chance to meet many youth folks from the venue's surrounding areas. This year we saw lots of our CA, OR, ID and WA peeps who can't make it to annual. That was worth the price of admission alone.

    Admission. Well, here is often where the rub comes. Even with sponsoring publishers and organizations, this remains an expensive conference when you combine registrations, transportation and housing. In terms of sheer opportunity to learn/network, these costs are more than made up for. This year, I paid the whole tab myself (PLA ate up the library CE funds this year) and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

    ALA Conferences
    Held twice a year these are the muscular conferences that move our association and profession forward. It's an opportunity for librarians to work on committees and task forces that hone leadership and problem solving skills by plunging hands, hearts and minds into the guts of improving service to our communities across types and sizes of libraries.

    Vast, sprawling and often confusing, ALA conferences are also an extraordinary opportunity to work with librarians from all types of libraries on areas of passion (technology = LITA; Feminism = Feminist t\Task Force; Intellectual Freedom = Freedom to Read Foundation...and endless combos) outside of our primary focus. Amazing opportunities to see massive exhibits and get hands-on looks at new and upcoming youth titles are combined with opportunities to attend special events that publishers host (breakfasts, lunches, social hours) and let you rub elbows with book creators is definitely a perk.

    In general ALA is far less programmatic. "What?!?!?!" you say, "There are a TON of programs to choose from!". Each division/unit is given a very small number of programs they can sponsor in the leaner paradigm adapted over the past few years. ALSC gets five, yes, I said FIVE program slots. Along with these there are independently pitched programs like Conversation Starters, Ignite sessions and Networking Commons opportunities that help attendees fill their dance cards.

    I love the annual conferences for the committee work and networking opportunities across types of libraries. Its the way that I can give back to the profession by working on ALSC committees, task forces, the board and ALA Council. Working with my peers, we make a difference because together we are stronger.

    Upshot?
    If you can make it to both types of conferences, most excellent. If you need to choose, Institutes are more programmatic/intimate. ALA conferences are great for working hard towards a better profession and giving back to the profession by working on committees and learning leadership skills. Although, I guess I can say I never won a Pete the Cat doll at an ALA conference ;->




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    17. Bee Time review

           The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mark L. Winston's Lessons from the Hive, in Bee Time.

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    18. One Lane

    When all the lanes merge into one
    And brake lights flicker on,
    You have no choice but sticking to
    The road that you're upon.

    The same applies to life; we age
    And walk the paths we've chosen,
    The other options out of reach
    While we waste time supposin'...

    How strange our journey might have been
    If other roads had beckoned,
    While opportunities still there
    Evaporate each second.

    So most of us continue on
    And hope the traffic lightens
    For turning onto routes unknown
    Once thrilled, but now it frightens.

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    19. Vale Notions Unlimited!

    Years ago, I used to go regularly to my favourite SF bookshop, Space Age, where I bought some of the books that are among my most prized possessions, and recordings that would probably be worth a mint on eBay these days.

    When that closed, we eventually got Slow Glass on the same site. Slow Glass, like Space Age, was a shop where SF fans could congregate before meetings, where writers would sometimes come to do signings. It was brighter and less musty than Space Age.

    That too closed when the landlord tripled the rent, as they tend to do when they want to get rid of a tenant and replace them with a fast food joint; the owner, Justin Ackroyd, did open a small shop somewhere in the suburbs, which I never saw and which was open odd hours according to who had to look after the child at the time. Justin is still in business but online and at conventions, where I have to say he always brings my books.

    Still, it's not a bookshop. And much as I love my ebooks, there is something about browsing in a shop that downloading just can't match.

    For a while, there was Of Science And Swords in the CBD - gone.

    But then, out in the suburbs again, was the wonderful Notions Unlimited, run by that very funny man, Chuck McKenzie. I couldn't go regularly, because it was in the outer suburbs. But whenever I went, I'd buy $80 or so worth of books, if not more. It was like having Slow Glass back. It had a lot of classics, some small press books and non fiction which I bought eagerly. There was a Dalek and a comfy chair area around a coffee table where games were played on the weekends.

    This is the thing about fans. I don't know about the game players at NU, who were, after all, doing what they had been invited to do and no doubt bought plenty of books, but quite often, when a place becomes a centre for fannish gatherings,  the fans gather and socialise and don't actually buy anything. And it's not that they have no money, more likely that they spent it on something else, somewhere  else.  Games. The latest season of their favourite TV show.  Something on eBay. Or they simply couldn't be bothered waiting for an ordered book to arrive, when they could get it quicker online.

    Now this wonderful shop is closed, with no plans to reopen anywhere else, and it's our fault for not supporting a local business. Even friends I urged to go along and try it didn't want to bother travelling to that side of the city, though it was close to the station.

    It had been in trouble for a while and I admit I always wondered how long it would last in that
    location. In the suburbs, you can't discover a shop you wander past, you have to go there - and this
    one was in an arcade. You had to know it was there.

    Still, a lot of us did know it was there.  And now it's not and all we have left is Minotaur, which is just too big and commercial for my tastes. It used to be a fannish shop, but no longer.

    Maybe that's why it has survived.

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    20. Drawing my Kitchen


    I have been planning to do this for ages. Or well, since the first time I saw Tommy Kane's klass while still preparing to launch the very first kourse of Sketchbook Skool, way back when.

    So I drew my kitchen. First the rough directions in pencil, then I drew everything in pen and added details. It has been a pen drawing for a week or two, waiting for colour, while I filled up my next daily pages in my sketchbook.

    Then finally I sat down and took out my watercolours. I hardly ever go back into a drawing to finish it, but this time I did, and I am so glad I did! Well spent drawing time, spent at my favorite place in the kitchen.

    You can do this too. It's almost meditative. And very rewarding if you take the time for a drawing. If you want to learn from the master in slowing down and drawing details, Tommy Kane, go to Sketchbookskool.com and join the kourse "Beginnings". It's $99 and starts October 10.
    You will also learn from Danny Gregory, Roz Stendahl, Jane LaFazio, Prashant Miranda, and me.
    www.sketchbookskool.com

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    21. Princeton Children’s Book Festival

    darlenebeckjacobson:

    I couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful post from ROBIN NEWMAN about the PRINCETON BOOK FESTIVAL.

    Originally posted on Robin Newman Books:

    Celebrating its 9th year, the Princeton Children’s Book Festival provides children, and bigger children like myself, the opportunity to meet some of their all-time favorite authors and illustrators, to learn about their craft, and to pray that their credit cards won’t exceed their credit limits because they’ve bought so many books. :)

    10365924_792071144145754_1277900530087224489_n

    And here are some photographic highlights of this year’s festival:

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    John Bemelmans Marciano

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     Laurie Calkhoven

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    Ammi-Joan Paquette

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    Floyd Cooper 

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    Me & Leeza Hernandez 

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    Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen 

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     Zachariah Ohora

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     Peter Brown 

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    Corey Rosen Schwartz

    IMG_6982

    Dave Roman 

    IMG_6985

    Sophie Blackall

    IMG_7006

    Dan Yaccarino

    IMG_7008

    Brian Floca 

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    IMG_7014

    Tad Hills

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    Lauren Castillo

    IMG_7028

    Adam Lehrhaupt

    IMG_7029

     Shhh! You didn’t see me.

    IMG_7030

    Ame Dyckman

    IMG_6976

    Donna Marie 

    IMG_7033

    Charise Harper 

    IMG_7035

     Debbie Dadey 

    IMG_7038

    Nancy Viau

    IMG_7056

    Matt Phelan 

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    Michelle Knudsen 

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    Jon Scieszka

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    Maryrose Wood

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    Alison Ashley Formento

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    Tommy Greenwald

    IMG_7049

    I had an awesome, amazing, super, wonderful, very, very good day at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival! And I’m looking forward…

    View original 18 more words


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    22. Emmanuel Carrère profile

           In The Observer Robert McCrum profiles Emmanuel Carrère: the most important French writer you've never heard of. [Aside: that sort of claim should really be reserved for the truly obscure, not someone who has been widely translated into English (six of his books are under review at the complete review ...); along with 'Lost in Translation' it's probably the single worst and most over/ab-used article headline in (pseudo-)literary journalism.]
           The occasion -- rather prematurely, as readers have to wait another month in both the US and UK -- is the publication of the English translation of Carrère's "non-fiction novel", Limonov (see the Farrar, Straus and Giroux publicity page [aside: that's a hell of a URL], or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; I have a copy and should be getting to it in the coming weeks). It's based on the life of the: "wrecked, transgressive figure of Eduard Limonov" (who you might also remember from Arslan Khasavov's Sense) -- whom McCrum also devotes considerable space to.
           Disappointingly, McCrum doesn't discuss Carrère's new book, Le Royaume -- 640 pages about the early days of Christianity, and a book that has gotten much attention but failed to make even just the longlists for the biggest French literary prizes this fall, the Goncourt and the Renaudot (see the P.O.L. publicity page)
           As noted, six of Carrère's titles are under review at the complete review; The Adversary still strikes me as his best.

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    23. Call for Fiction and Memoir: Blue Heron Book Works


    Blue Heron Book Works, an e-pub company, is looking for outstanding memoirs--unusual personal tales well told, or awesomely well told ordinary stories to publish as ebook, with an eye to print-on-demand later. 
     
    We would also like to work with fiction writers who have ideas for series fiction of any sort.  All costs are born by BHBW. 
     
    Check out our website to see what we like.  And query us at:
     
    infoATblueheronbookworksDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

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    24. Elephants Have Wings Engaging in Community

    Elephants have Wings by Susanne gervay and Anna PignataroPIGNATARO_ANNA_ELEPHANTSHAVEWINGS_FULLIMAGEWith the world so traumatised by terrorism , the world is responding with movements for change, peace, kindness.

    labyrinth in Centennial ParkLabyrinth Centennial ParkThe Labyrinth – a walking meditation – opened by Governor Marie Bashir to the blessings of the Wisdom Keepers from Aunty Ali Golding Aboriginal Elder Biripi Nation and many leaders of many faiths – Sikh, Buddhist, Moslem, Roman Catholic, Unity Church, Jewish, Zen, Anglican …. and others.

    The Sydney Sacred Music Festival joins Stephanie Dowrick author and minister for an Interfaith service in Sydney’ s Uniting Church:-

    ‘If light is in your heart you will find your way home’. Rumi

    The music played and sung by Dr Kim Cunio touched the heart.

    Sydney Sacred Music festival and Inetrfaith ServiceTAL CAMERAStephanie Dowrick and Dr Kim Cunio at InterfaithInterfaith at Uniting Church Pitt Street SydneyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInterfaith service Elephants Have Wings published by Ford Street Publishing.

     

     

    The post Elephants Have Wings Engaging in Community appeared first on Susanne Gervay's Blog.

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    25. The Value of being Incompetent

    The 4 Stages of Competence | My wife read a magazine while we were waiting in the doctors’ office and found a learning model that has changed my perspective on learning.

    The core of the idea is that in order to gain a competence in a skill it is necessary first to recognize that there is more to learn. I personally find the point of view refreshing because it gives me permission not to be perfect yet. It is expected, in fact necessary, for mistakes to be made in order for me to get better.

    Before I can achieve competence I must recognize that I am incompetent.

    All skill development goes through this stage. It is the stage in the process where most of us quit. If we do however wish to gain the skill a conscious effort must be made. This is a stage of faith. A willingness to invest consistent effort over time to become competent. It is not immediate gratification.

    —–

    The following is a condensed version from Wikipedia.

    Unconscious incompetence

    The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit.

    Conscious incompetence

    Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit.

    Conscious competence

    The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration.

    Unconscious competence

    The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily.

    —–

    As children we enjoy a stage where ignorance is bliss. We draw, dance, and sing, because we like it without worrying that it is “good enough”. Then one day when we realize that there is long way to go before we can really draw, sing, and dance, well. We say things like “I can’t draw a straight line”. What gave us pleasure a few days ago now seems unattainable.

    All learning requires a recognition of incompetency. So today I give you permission to be incompetent so that you might become competent.

    What skill are you trying to gain competency ?

     

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