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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1547 Blogs, since 1/28/2008 [Help]
Results 42,176 - 42,200 of 492,249
42176. Don't hold your breath waiting for the City of Ashes movie.

From the Guardian:

It was billed as the next Twilight: a blockbuster fantasy saga based on the hugely popular series of young adult novels by Cassandra Clare. But the next installment in the Mortal Instruments series has now been put on hold while Hollywood executives try to work out why its predecessor landed as one of the year's biggest turkeys.

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42177. OPEN MIC: Introducing Contributor Cherry Cheva ...

I'm so proud of the nine authors who collaborated with me on OPEN MIC: RIFFS ON LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES (an anthology published 9.10.13 by Candlewick Press). I'll be featuring each of them in alphabetical order over the next month or so on the Fire Escape.

Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to the one and only Cherry Chevapravatdumrong (Cheva), author of "Talent Show," a short story that is third in the OPEN MIC lineup. Here's the first paragraph to whet your appetite:
Question: There are two high-school juniors in a room. They're waiting to audtion for the talent show. One is an Asian girl. The other is a white guy. One is tuning a violin. The other fiddles with a scrap of paper containing notes from a stand-up comedy act. 
Which one is which?
Yeah, I know what you'd say. That's what I'd say, too, except that I happened to be the guy. Holding the violin.
Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Cherry is the author of two novels, She's so Money and DupliKate, and the co-author, with Alex Borstein, of It Takes A Village Idiot, and I Married One. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and is a writer and producer for Family Guy. If you've never watched the show, here's what Fox had to say about it:
Entering its 11th season, FAMILY GUY continues to entertain fans with its shocking humor, infamous cutaway gags and epic episodes. Since its debut, the show has reached cult status among fans, and its breakout star, a talking baby, has become one of the greatest TV villains of all time. FAMILY GUY has racked up numerous awards, including an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, only the second animated series in television history to be honored with such a distinction.
"A lot of people watching the Family Guy credits think my name is fake," says Cherry. "It's not. It's just Thai."

Contact or find out more about the marvelous Cherry Cheva:

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42178. a bit of sweetness....

eli's slumberland
©the enchanted easel 2013
on this otherwise sad day.

well, for all of you who follow me on facebook (or on here), you know i have been working on this cute little elephant over the last 4 days. it was a surprise gift for the wonderful secretary in my neurosurgeon's office, jackie, who is about to pop soon! these people have been so amazing to me through 3 neck surgeries/cervical spine/fusions that there was just NO way i could let it go without doing something. jackie has always been so lovely to me over the years that it was a no-brainer for me to want to paint her something super cute for the impending arrival of her little one. 

since she's waiting until the baby is born to know whether it will be a little girl or boy, i wanted to make sure that i created/designed something gender friendly. also, it turns out, jackie LOVES elephants (like me). so, it couldn't have turned out any better. 

i delivered it to her personally today and she was so surprised. her reaction made the rest of my 2013 for sure. granted, i'm a bit sore from painting so much for so many days in a row (as i'm still trying to recover fully here from my 3rd surgery) but i have to say, her reaction made the soreness worthwhile.

i have decided to sell PRINTS of this in my etsy shop found here:
it is available in sizes 4x4, 6x6 or 8x8. a perfect addition for any baby boy/girl's nursery. besides, who could resist a cute little baby elephant...in a diaper? ;)

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42179. September 11th

This is what I post around Sept. 11 of every year. I am so sorry if you’ve read it before. A lot of things have changed in my life in twelve years. I went from being a newspaper reporter and city councilor to an editor to unemployed to a novelist. But how I feel about heroes will never change.

++++ +++++++ ++++++++ ++++++++

It's hard not to think about September 11 without thinking about loss. That’s how it should be. But I do know that so many heroes that we never hear about worked hard on that day. It's important to remember them too, because they are, I think, what it truly means to be an American and a person.

My uncle, Charlie, who lives in Maplewood, NJ was just across the shore when he saw the plane go into one of the tall towers in New York City. He is over 80. He is a doctor. He was in World War II. He hates war.

He told me when he saw that plane full of people go into that tower full of people he said, "Jesus Christ... Jesus Christ..."

He mumbled it for a second, a prayer, a plea, a name, a hope. He said his heart sank right into the bottom of his feet as he stood there watching. He said like he felt like he stood there on the shore forever. He didn't. He moved after a second. He went right over towards the towers, towards the death and the hurt and the terror and the screaming, and the whole time in his head he kept repeating those words, that name.... Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ.

He started to help people. He was over 80 breathing in all kinds of horrible things into lungs that were already tired and aged, but that didn't stop him. He'd helped people all his life. He had served his country all his life. Nobody would have thought anything if he had turned around, walked away, got in his car and drove back to Maplewood.

Charlie would have thought something though if he did that.

He could have never done that.

My former father-in-law, Ben, also over 80, is an EMT. He became one when he was 65.  After years of being an executive, he wanted to feel like he did something good in his life, something helpful. He was part of the Red Cross disaster team. He went over to the site too, got grit out of people's eyes, helped them breathe, helped them cope.

You ask him what it was like and he shakes his head slowly and says in his deep/hoarse voice, "God, that was an awful scene. Just an awful scene."

Charlie and Ben weren't firemen on duty or police officers like so many heroes that day were. They weren't official first responders. What I love about them is that they made the choice. They chose to go. They chose to help and they didn't give a poop about how old they were, about how many people they'd already helped. They didn't care about the ache in their bones or the fact that both their hearts are starting to fail. They cared about something else. They cared about people. So they went.

They will always be my heroes. They are just two of many, many stories that happened on that day and on others. People can do awful things. We can hurt our loves, bomb each other, scream words of hate, glorify ignorance with bats and cars, ignore a smile of a cashier, be too busy to pay attention to a child. But we can do beautiful things, too. We can love, and heal, we can put other's first, rush to a scene of mayhem, put ourselves in peril on the off chance that we might be able to save a life, get grit out of an eye, give comfort, give a hug. And that... that is what makes people worth it. That is what makes people magic. That is what makes people heroes over and over again. So, I will remember Ben and Charlie and so many others today. I won't ignore the hate and pain and sorrow that happens on Sept. 11 or on any day of war or violence, but I choese to remember the good, too. I choose to remember the heroes.

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42180. Player Profile: Ed Chatterton, author of Underland

EdChattertonauthorimageEd Chatterton, author of Underland

Tell us about your latest creation:

‘Underland’. This is the sequel to last year’s ‘A Dark Place To Die’ which was Random House Book of the Month for August. Set in Liverpool, England and in LA, this is a gritty psychological crime thriller which builds from an apparently ‘ordinary’ murder-suicide to a climax of global proportions.

9781742753966Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I was born in Liverpool (England) and lived and worked in London and then the US for some time before emigrating to Australia in 2004. I live in Lennox Head on the NSW north coast and split my time between there and the UK.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I wanted to be an astronaut but there were some problems: fear of enclosed spaces and being lousy at maths among them. Next I wanted to be a footballer. I still do. My first achievable aim was to do something in the arts and I became an illustrator. Now I have ambitions to be a film-maker. ‘A Dark Place To Die’ was optioned as a movie so maybe that’s how I’ll end up achieving that particular goal.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

The work I’m producing at the moment is my best. If I didn’t belive that I’d give up. I’m currently working on three projects, all of which occupy most of my brain space. The first is ‘Unidentified Male’, the third book in my ‘Frank Keane’ crime series. The second is ‘Archangel’, a futuristic YA novel which itself is a spin off from my PhD magnum opus, ‘The Last Slave Ship’ an examination of the lingering effects of the slave trade on my home city. I think that ’Underland’ is an improvement on ‘A Dark Place’ and I’m feeling good about the work I’m doing on ‘Unidentified Male’. Why? These novels are the culmination of a long apprenticeship in writing. I’m pushing myself hard, because I’m trying to compete with the best. And I’m trying new fields: one of my projects is working with Rebel Waltz Films on a documentary about the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have a desk that’s too small and a computer that’s too big. It veers wildly between chaotic and ordered. I’ve been working for thirty years in this field and there is always this imagined Shangri-La of work environments that I know – just know – I will have one day yet still remains tantalisingly out of reach. I suspect this will always be the case.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I have been reading a lot of slavery related stuff. Barry Unsworth’s ‘Sacred Hunger’ is a stand out. Also more esoteric academic material and (quite strangely for me) the poems of WH Auden. I’ve also been trying to discover why Scandi crime is so popular.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

So many to choose from. The Famous Five featured heavily, as did Ian Fleming, Conan Doyle, Capt WE Johns (Biggles), Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, Dr Seuss, Isaac Asimov, Michael Moorcock, Evelyn Waugh, Richmal Crompton and (later) Elmore Leonard. Probably the Sherlock Holmes stories are the ones that have had the most influence.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Sherlock Holmes. I always fancied myself as a cerebral gentleman about town and Holmes is such a complex and flawed character. I think my Holmes fixation is very like my David Bowie man crush.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I play soccer and I’m pretty good at it too. I’m also president of the Lennox Arts Board. We brought KULCHUR to Surf Town in the form of Andrew Frost (‘The A-Z of Contemporary Art) and Michael Leunig.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

When I was a kid there was a magazine called ‘Shoot!’ which dealt with English football. In the section where they asked players what their favourite food was they would, almost without exception, say ‘steak and chips’. This was the late sixties/early seventies but I still think it’s hard to beat a perfect rare steak and some shoestring fries with a dab of English mustard. Wine.

Who is your hero? Why?:

As an ex-punk not having heroes was something of a mission statement but I’d have to give it up for John Lennon, John Lydon, PG Wodehouse, William Shakespeare, David Bowie, James Brown, Larry David, Laurel and Hardy, SJ Perelman, Armando Ianucci, Michael Winterbottom, Woody
Allen, Patricia Highsmith, Ron Mueck and Billy Connolly all qualify as bona fide heroes. Actually, for someone who doesn’t have heroes that’s quite a lot, isn’t it?  John Lennon then.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I think moving to a more fluid distribution system while still rewarding the creatives is the biggest challenge. What has happened with music will happen with books. Probably.

Website URL: www.edchatterton.com
Blog URL: www.thelastslaveship.com.au
Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/martin.chatterton.5?ref=tn_tnmn
Twitter URL: @MEChatterton

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42181. An Evening with Patricia Polacco

I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to the amazing author/illustrator PATRICIA POLACCO on Monday evening. She discussed a few of her books--in particular THE KEEPING QUILT and THE BLESSING CUP. Both of these heartwarming stories are based on her own true family stories.

Ms. Polacco said that she came from a family of "amazing storytellers." Every evening her grandmother would share a story, embellishing them more and more as the years went by. "Of course it's a true story," her grandmother would say when asked. "But it may not have happened."

The author went on to explain that "the truth is the journey one takes through the story." She also shared her feelings on her illustrations. "Art is like breathing," she said. "I can't imagine life without it."

I encourage you to share the journey through one or many of Patricia Polacco's endearing picture book stories. You'll be so glad that you did.

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42182. Researching an Agent

You need to do your homework in doing an agent search. 


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42183. Wordless Wednesday : One of THE STORYTELLERS covers that didn’t make the cut


Click here to enter the Kindle Fire Storytellers release day giveaway!

Fictional Candy is posting an exclusive excerpt today. Click here to read!

Thanks for joining the party! And because if how many of you commented yesterday, I’ve posted the first five pages of THE STORYTELLERS here. 

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42184. Required Reading: Best Unconventional Memoirs

In an age when everyone and their niece has written a tell-all book, when even fictional characters like Ron Burgundy are penning the stories of their lives, how does a memoir stand out among its peers? What qualities make it like nothing we've seen before? Sometimes truly extraordinary experiences can launch a memoir into uncharted [...]

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42185. Canadian and American Junior Champions Find Friendship ‘Over the Moon’

Teenage pole-vaulting sensations Kassandra (Kassy) Hordal, of Edmonton, Alberta, and Makayla Linebarger, of Reno, Nev., launched themselves into the record books in their respective countries this summer. In the process, Canada’s best and America’s best became best of friends. Kassy, … Continue reading

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42186. First Look at “Legend of Korra—Book 2: Spirits”

The Legend of Korra returns to Nickelodeon with a new season this Friday, September 13, at 7pm (ET/PT). While the new season trailer is action-fueled drama (with a glimpse of the first Avatar Wan), we’ve got an exclusive clip featuring Bolin in a lighter moment from the upcoming season:

Korra’s second season, titled Book 2: “Spirits,” takes place six months after the end of Book 1:

Korra has rid Republic City of Amon and the Equalists, but now she must take on an even larger threat as the physical and spirit worlds collide. During the one-hour premiere, “Rebel Spirit/The Southern Lights,” Korra struggles to find a deeper connection with the Spirit World as she and the gang attend a Southern Water Tribe festival. Then, Korra and Chief Unalaq journey into a dangerous maelstrom and find a source of great spiritual power.

The Legend of Korra is co-created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who also created Avatar: The Last Airbender, and exec produced by DiMartino, Konietzko and Joaquim Dos Santos.

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42187. Artist of the Day: Tuna Bora

Tuna Bora

Istanbul-born, LA-based Tuna Bora works as a freelance visual development artist in Los Angeles, applying her skills to feature animation production, games, commercials and more. In a recent personal project, she co-produced an illustration book with Elsa Chang called Tendre Retrouvailles. A few examples of Tuna’s work from this book are above and below.

Tuna Bora

Tuna Bora

Tuna Bora

On her blog, Tuna shares sketches including the animal gesture studies below. These were observed and drawn from the online Figure & Gesture Drawing website which is a useful tool for artists who want convenient drawing practice but don’t have live nude models or wild animals on-hand at that moment.

Tuna Bora

Tuna Bora

Visit Tuna’s website and Tumblr for character designs, gouache studies and plenty more work.

Tuna Bora

Tuna Bora

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42188. A Luxury

Today was ninety-eight degrees;
At least that’s how it felt.
I’m shocked that I am still intact;
I thought that I would melt.

But I would take this kind of heat
For months, all in a row,
Instead of what was perfect weather
Twelve short years ago.

For from those bright blue skies above
The world came crashing down,
Releasing so much sorrow
In its tears we all could drown.

Complaining is a luxury
When there’s no glaring threat
And I feel fortunate to whine
About a little sweat.

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42189. Know Your Genre

I recently created a course on prewriting for my Master's degree. I thought it would be a good thing to share with the rest of you. I'll spend the next six Wednesdays showing the course unit by unit, starting with a video, then an outline and finally some practice activities. The first part is about selecting a genre.


Know Your Genre Genre = the category your writing falls into. Bookstores, reviewers and sellers separate books by genre to help readers.
 A genre tells you what kind of conflict you will have and how it will likely be resolved.

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42190. Review: Liberator #3 – with extra Bunnies!

A striking cover from the tremendous Ben Templesmith has garnered Liberator #3 all kinds of attention. If you’ve not been reading this fantastic debut, read on…

liberator_coverBlack Mask Studios is doing very interesting things. Ballistic, Occupy Comics, and this, a mix of vigilante action, political intrigue, and heartwarming puppies. From newcomers Matt Miner and Javier Sanchez Aranda comes this non-fantastical tale of those who work as animal rights activists – the direct action camp, busting out animals and burning down buildings.

It’s a contentious issue to be sure, and one that I personally was deeply intrigued by – being a soft-hearted vegan punk myself. The art is rough and ready, pulsing with energy and some really neat colouring effects. The story is fast paced and nicely subtle – what appears on the surface as a straight forward hero tale, sees strands carefully pulled loose and left for our protagonist to trip over.

Lets re-cap. The first issue of Liberator was about introducing us to the cast, and to the general concept of the series.

#1 cover by Tim Seeley

#1 cover by Tim Seeley

We met Damon Guerrero, vigilante animal rights activist, a straight up hero rescuing furry friends from dog fighting rings, and torching the buildings used to house such activities. Leaving his saved pups to a rescue centre, he trots into work at a cafe, harassed by asshole colleague Randy before meeting friend Jeanette, a fellow animal rights protestor who Damon describes as a “martyr”, spending time as the public face of the movement rather than directly helping animals.

Still, as he picks Jeanette up from the station after being held for fighting back against cops that were harassing the protestors, it’s clear the two are good buddies. But soon after, Damon flips his lid at the sight of a grown man kneeling down to talk to a kid, screaming in to the rescue before belatedly realising that the adult is harmless uncle to the child.

It’s clear that Damon has issues, but as he launches into another dog rescue, defending himself against thugs while telling us, “my ethics keep me from wantonly hurting people to save animals”, it’s easy to forget the previous blip. But make no mistake, Damon has just outed himself as a very unreliable narrator.

We know that saving animals is a Good Thing, and most of us of course know that animal testing and animal cruelty is incredibly inhumane and completely unnecessary, but are Damon and Jeanette truly two sides of the same coin? Or is there something else driving Damon beyond simply helping animals?

It’s a theme that was planted early, but comes right to the foreground in #3, out today.

#2 cover by Yildiray Cinar and Rod Reis

#2 cover by Yildiray Cinar and Rod Reis

The second issue of Liberator saw tensions between Damon and Randy the asshole increase (while taking an out of context pot-shot at Bully Ink), and we learn that the media are regarding Damon’s previous (anonymous) actions as domestic terrorism.

This issue is intriguing, as it’s something many who support animal welfare or animal rights have come up against, that taking direct action, sometimes the only way to save a group of animals – whether they be mice or dogs – while damaging only property and not people, is seen as equal to real terrorism. Humanising the people who undertake these actions, knowing what the prison terms could be, is perhaps part of what Liberator is trying to do.

#2 also saw Damon launch his attack on a large fur farm, by doing some preliminary surveillance scouting, where he comes across a now similarly costumed Jeanette. It seems that Damon has been seriously underestimating how committed Jeanette is to her beliefs, and her joking suggestion that they have a “superhero team-up” is a nice nod to the medium of this tale. We also hear about how politics in the US interplay with how these huge fur farms are able to survive despite negative public opinion.

As the pair later discuss tackling a nearby lab, Jeanette finds a strange photo on Damon’s floor – a man sitting on a bench, which a child playing on a climbing frame behind him. “It’s nothing, it’s something else I’m working on,” says Damon, snatching the photograph away. “Forget about it.”

Damon also receives a letter at work, from an anonymous source promising resources to his cause if he joins their mystery organisation. As the new dynamic duo save a bunch of cuddly bunny rabbits from a university lab (a fantastic action sequence), they make their escape only to be confronted by blazing sirens and police on the cliffhanger of a final page.

Issue #3 begins not only with those adorable bunnies (squee!) but with a very plausible stroke of luck that sees Damon and Jeanette walking free. Jeanette has the right idea, wanting to escape with the rabbits while they can, but Damon chooses to throw a rock through the nearest window, breaking out a supervillain-esque “HA HA HAHAHA!” as he does so.


Remember, this guy is our hero. But also, our increasingly unreliable narrator. Mad with power, he puts his own indulgence for violence and power above the wellbeing of the animals that he is there, purportedly, to save.

The next day, as Damon tries to text an apology to Jeanette, we see that we’ve definitely mixed up who is the hero of this story. Jeanette is horrified that he’s being so stupid as to text such sensitive information, jeopardising not only themselves, but again, the animals she saves.

Looking back through the issues, we repeatedly see Damon thinking less of Jeanette for not doing the important work that he does – but it turns out she’s just been a lot more discrete, while also working on the public face of the movement – that same public face that gets laws changed – and getting shit done. She helps her fellow protestors avoid trouble with asshole cops, and generally has her head screwed on right. She’s a superhero!

We see Damon hit another place, slashing tires, raking through garbage, destroying property and so forth. It’s no different from what we’ve seen before countless times, but this time it seems darker, more dangerous and potentially twisted.

As Jeanette discovers something that could blow Damon’s world apart, he himself is hitting yet another building, this time with flames dancing in his eyes. His narrative is as powerful as ever, but now I wonder, is this justice? Or is this madness?


I’m interested to see where this story goes. I’m really impressed with how the character of Jeanette has been handled, ie like a person rather than a stereotypical comic book woman. And no dumb romance plot! Aces.

I enjoy stories with unreliable narrators as you’re never quite sure what is about to unravel next, and it gives earlier sequences a whole new dimension. It works well with this tightly plotted book, with connecting scenes rather than your typically linear storytelling, and the dual narrative introduced in #3 is very intriguing.

Honestly, I think Liberator addresses some very important issues, throwing them out into the spotlight for examination, and telling us to question everything – our protagonist included.


Also, bunnies!

Liberator #3
Writer: Matt Miner
Artist: Javier Sanchez Aranda
Colourist: Joaquin Pereyra
Cover Artist: Ben Templesmith
Letters: Vito Delsante
Publisher: Black Mask Studios

On Sale: September 11, 2013
Diamond ID: JUN130875


Laura Sneddon is a comics journalist and academic, writing for the mainstream UK press with a particular focus on women and feminism in comics. Currently working on a PhD, do not offend her chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible. Her writing is indexed at comicbookgrrrl.com and procrastinated upon via @thalestral on Twitter.

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42191. Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This has been THE BOOK on my online book club lately.  The glowing recommendations, the affirmations that it was the book to read this year, prompted me to pick it up when I saw it on the shelf at the library.  And while I'm glad I read it, I think this was a case where the hype machine didn't do it any favors.

It's the story of Lou, who lives at home with her parents, grandfather, sister, and nephew and is happy in her job at a local bakery.  When that job is pulled out from under her, she finds work as a companion for Will Traynor, a local aristocrat who, after years of living life to the extreme, was injured and is now a quadriplegic.  Lou quickly learns that her job isn't just to socialize with Will, it's to, in effect, babysit him, as he has attempted suicide once already when the book begins.  Despite the fact that Will is surly and unwelcoming, he and Lou become friends and she begins a project to convince him that life is still worth living.

I have essentially no thoughts either way.  I hate it when I have to write that because it seems like such a cop-out, but it's just true with some books.  I wasn't blown away by the author's style, plot, character development, etc, but I also wasn't unhappy.  It's a fine job; no complaints, no raves.

Entertainment Value
This is where the appeal of the book lies.  It's a good story.  You care deeply about the characters and want to see a happy ending for them, despite the obstacles they have to overcome.  It's certainly an intriguing premise and it reads quickly and easily.  It also manages to be humorous and touching at times.  I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen.

Unfortunately, I have to say that despite my enjoyment of the book, I was conscious that my emotions were being manipulated.  That's never a good thing.  I had moments of thinking "I'm sad now because the author has written this with the sole purpose of making me sad."  I wasn't caught up in the moment, I realized that it was manipulative writing and that I didn't care as much about what was happening as I felt like I was SUPPOSED to care about what was happening.

I could go either way on this one.  It didn't blow me away, but it also certainly didn't turn me off.  If you're looking for a sentimental read, it's perfect.  And it has a good, light quality, while also exploring some deep and provocative issues.  But it won't be making my best of lists.

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42192. Murphy's Wake

It was the last time I would go to Finn, I swore to myself as I searched for him in the Elmdale Tavern. He was around one of the regular spots. I needed to see him fast. At the Carleton Tavern I found Finn with a quart and money coming out of every pocket. I sat down with him, ordered a pint. It was still early in the day. I hit Finn up for fifty bucks to pay Murphy. Finn charged a fee for even handing you the loan. It cost sixty to borrow fifty for a week, but it would be worth it. Finn copied phone numbers and odds as he readied himself for a busy day ahead. Sunday, of course, was his big day because of the NFL betting. This was Saturday when college football and pro baseball took most gamblers’ attention. I finished my pint, said goodbye to Finn, caught Murphy at the Prescott Tavern, gave him a lift to Mary’s. Murphy and Mary had been engaged for twenty years. He still visited her little flower shop every morning. We stopped so he could pick a bouquet of flowers for her in a city park. Murphy didn’t believe in paying for flowers. When they were in season, he helped himself. It was a bone of contention between them. Murphy believed that flowers were given to man by the good Lord, shouldn’t be bought and sold. Mary believed that people gladly paid for the little ray of sunshine they purchased with a nice bouquet of flowers. Murphy had a friend named Calhoun in Montreal who could, for a price, buy a block of tickets in a provincial lottery which would produce winners. All I had to do was give fifty dollars to Murphy. I didn’t follow the whole scam back to the actual score, but I questioned Murphy enough to know that it felt like a winner. He assured me that fifty dollars would produce five thousand for me. Added to some others and passed through the right hands, it would yield twice as much, for him. This guy, Calhoun, had an in, was sharing the wealth. Murphy did it for me out of the kindness of his heart and good business sense. He didn’t have to include me, but he saw me as a good luck charm. I dropped Murphy off, went home to a weekend of sports on t.v. and too much beer. It didn’t cheer me up, to hear, on Monday morning, that Murphy had died on the weekend from a heart attack. I drove to Mary’s which was above her flower shop. It isn’t decent and polite to speak ill of the deceased, but getting lottery tickets was another matter. He always wore the same suit, his best, for giving and taking payments, more taking than giving, it always seemed with Murphy as he did his weekend rounds, careful not to exceed his booze limit. The lottery tickets had to be in his suit. Mary was in her shop with a short, dark, Scottish lawyer named Jack Scullion. She introduced us without mentioning if the man even knew Murphy. I listened with polite sadness, shook my head regretfully. Mary described Murphy’s last moments. It seemed that he died in her arms. Just after they had named a date. They had been engaged now for twenty years, so they were celebrating the twentieth year by marriage. She was as good as his wife anyway, Mary said. I agreed and inquired about Murphy’s “effects” as diplomatically as possible. Perhaps it was a little too vaguely phrased. Mary didn’t respond. Jack Scullion walked around the shop like he was looking for something suspicious. He kept an ear cocked in our direction though. He was trying to figure out who I was, where I fit in. Margaret, Murphy’s sister, appeared with her husband, Ralph, a used car lot owner. It was safe to say that the vultures were circling. I managed to find out that Murphy would be dressed in his best suit tomorrow at Ralph’s showroom. They were having the wake there. Ralph told me, in confidence, that it was his idea. It seemed a bit greedy for Ralph to take advantage of the crowd of potential customers which would gather to send Murphy off, but I wasn’t one to judge. There didn’t seem to be much of a chance of getting at Murphy’s suit pockets until the next day so I drove home and waited. I joined the line of people entering Ralph’s showroom. The place had a western theme, the staff were dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. They wore black armbands while Ralph himself was resplendent in a black western suit with tie and boots to match. He had probably considered wearing his black, ten gallon Stetson, but decided against it in case of misinterpretation by the mourners. There was a good mixture at Murphy’s wake. A crowd of children were the offspring of Murphy’s family. The older ones were Murphy’s cousins, uncles and aunts. When Murphy had mentioned his family at poker games or at the end of late night pub crawls, he gave the impression that he was the black sheep. His own opinion was that the family disliked him because they were jealous of his money and freedom. The people grew noisier as the booze flowed freely. Their presence was welcome. I needed as much attention diverted as possible while I sought the tickets. Most of the sniffling and crying came from Mary and Margaret. As I shuffled along toward them in the line, I could hear Margaret declaring that Murphy looked like himself. Mary’s voice rose over Margaret’s, in grief stricken tones, to tell someone that her brother had called to extend his condolences. He added that it was nice to think about old Murphy finally laying quiet with his big yap shut. People in the line who heard it at first looked puzzled, then made clucking noises. They agreed that it was a down to earth, honest assessment of the deceased, rest his soul. I eyed the coffin, snuck a peek at Murphy within. He did look like himself, I will say that. The dark, pinstriped suit, Murphy’s best, with the vest done up, decorated his body. His face was pinker than normal, but I only saw him in bars or restaurants so maybe this was what he really looked like. He had his hands folded peacefully over his pot belly and, all in all, looked like he had just exhaled and forgotten to inhale. There was no doubt about it, the life had gone out of Murphy. I could smell the gin on Margaret when she hugged me and the rye on Mary’s breath as she looked at me with red rimmed eyes and running mascara I managed to nod sadly and escape her while giving Murphy another quick, visual once over. Jack Scullion hovered in the background, watching everyone, especially me. There was plenty of drink and some sandwiches which the ladies had made. I helped myself to the food, found the coffee. It would take a clear head, whatever I did. Ralph was giving a sales pitch to a couple beside a beat up old clunker which looked like it had recently been retired from delivering pizza. He made the mistake of leaning a little too hard on the front bumper when he pushed it to demonstrate the shocks. The bumper fell off, barely missing his cowboy boots. Ralph never lost a beat. He made a note to see the mechanic about “bodywork problems”, kicked the offending bumper under the car. The pile of sawdust beneath it was turning black, absorbing oil. Jack Scullion approached me with a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other. He had jet black hair, scars on his nose and around his eyes. He bore all the signs of a fighter feeling no pain. He stood spread legged in front of me and asked if I was in Murphy’s will. When I told him I didn’t think so, he seemed to relax. As much as a short, Glaswegian lawyer can relax. His shifty eyes wondered how I could benefit from Murphy’s death. He turned and stood by my side with a wide stance. He gestured alternately with the beer and the smoke while he surveyed the room. “Ach, it’s a right shower here, just noo, Jimmy” I nodded, but I didn’t really know what he meant. He didn’t notice, went on with his monologue, sometimes addressing the room, sometimes confiding to me. “Aye, they’re aw here noo. The vultures’re here. Look at em circlin, look at yersels, ach. See em? They’re after his money. The poor old boy isn’t even cauld yet. See em? They’re a right shower a bastards” No doubt, like most of his race, the Scottish lawyer was a little crazy and extremely violent. Rather than point out that he, too, was in attendance for strictly financial reasons, I managed to escape back to Margaret and Mary. I was getting desperate. Mary and Margaret had been absorbing the alcohol at a rapid rate. They had run out of tears. Their mutual hostility emerged with each drink. I addressed them with an eye on the coffin. “Well, ladies, it must be tense waiting for the will to be read. To see who gets what of Murphy’s. I understand that Mary here was just about to tie the knot with poor Murphy” Margaret frowned and produced many heretofore unseen lines in her face. “Hah” She blurted out with a laugh. “Tie the knot. He’s been engaged to her for twenty years” Mary reacted with bug eyed indignation. Her truthfulness about Murphy’s last moments was being questioned. “We were like man and wife. He didn’t spend time with his other family” she said before she found another glass of rye. Ralph had finished his pitch, but had no takers. He threw regretful glances at the bumper as he approached us, beer in hand. “Anyone got a few words to say?” he asked with a kindly smile. “Ha. Family’s family. It’s his blood in my veins” Margaret asserted. Jack Scullion had joined us. He had a fresh beer, stood spread legged with shoulders back. It was as though he was bracing himself on a heaving deck. “The will overrides everything” said Mary pugnaciously in Margaret’s direction. This hostility caught Jack’s attention, it was right up his alley. He looked around for an opponent, saw Ralph about to speak. I sidled toward the casket as Ralph began what he thought was sort of a eulogy for Murphy, but which he never finished. He never really got it started. Mary took offence at the look which Margaret gave her, hit the dead man’s sister with her purse. Jack saw his opportunity, gave Ralph a Glaswegian handshake which could be heard all over the showroom. There was evidence of Jack’s nutting ability the next day in the taverns; quite a few black eyes and bandaids sported by the mourners who clashed with him He made up for his lack of height by jumping straight at the other man’s face, applying the head, around the hairline, into whatever features were available. With Ralph sitting in a pool of the blood which was spouting from his nose, the women shrieking as they rolled around in front of him, I made it to the casket. Jack was taking on all comers. He seemed to be enjoying himself. I searched Murphy’s vest and trouser pockets with one hand, the other still holding my coffee cup. I was about to try his jacket when the lights went out. It wasn’t dark, but it turned everything in the showroom shadowy. The struggling figures in the brawl were being joined by others, the children shooed to the office. Maybe it was one of them who was responsible for the half light. I checked one side of Murphy’s jacket pockets and found nothing. The noise of fighting and breaking glass became louder. I tried the other pocket, felt cardboard. I pulled the lottery tickets out of Murphy’s pocket, squinted at them. They were the right ones. I was saying a prayer of thanks to my dead chum and the good Lord when I dropped the tickets. They slid down on the other side of Murphy. I panicked for a moment. Placing my cup between Murphy’s folded hands, I used one of my hands to shift his weight, the other to feel for the tickets. I grasped them just as a bottle crashed against the casket and a sliding body took my feet out from under me. Ralph had provided a fold out table from the lunch room upon which to place Murphy’s casket. As my weight shifted, the casket slid off the table. Murphy sat up with my coffee cup in his hands. Crawling toward the door, tickets in my hand, I glanced back. Murphy’s sudden rise from the prone to the sitting position, had caused a pause in the fighting. I heard various opinions of this phenomenon. “It’s a sign” The words “miracle” and “resurrection”were mentioned several times.. When I joined Finn, the next day, at the Carleton Tavern and paid him back, cheerfully, he gave me a curious look. He was totalling up the weekend’s action over a quart, asked me if I’d been to Murphy’s funeral after the donnybrook at his wake. I confirmed that I’d attended the burial. It was a sad and solemn affair for all involved including Murphy’s family and everyone’s legal representatives. We drank a memorial toast to Murphy that day before I bought everyone a round and placed a few bets.

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42193. List-Mania for Writers

Who doesn't love a good list? Certainly, Buzzfeed readers do. On any given day of the week, Buzzfeed offers lists of advice from Wizard Chic: 10 Ways to Look Like Less of a Muggle to the 25 Most Awkward Cat Sleeping Positions

This week, Buzzfeed was one of several websites to focus on lists for writers. I have to admit, I got sucked in - I clicked on each one. So, for this week's reading pleasure, I give you my favorite lists of the week:

Click through, and then fill out your list:

  • Did Buzzfeed miss any stages?
  • Mashable certainly missed some quotes -- any favorites?
  • How close did you come to Rory Gilmore's list? (Full disclosure - I scored a 78. Not even close.)

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42194. Bearing Witness: An Interview with Elizabeth Wein

Today I’ve something completely different for you.

Given the age of my kids I tend to review picture books, chapter books and nonfiction aimed at the under 10 crowd. But over the summer I read a YA novel that took my breath away; and this is no trope, for I finished it gulping for air, both sobbing and full of not-exactly-joy but certainly a passion for life.

I simply couldn’t not share it with you. I want to share the very best of books with you, and this is one of those. Whilst I’m sure it will win awards, I’m even more confident that it will change the shape of your heart and what you see around you.

roseunderfireThe book that will do this is Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.

Starkly put, Rose Under Fire is about life in Ravensbrück concentration camp during the Second World War.

It’s about the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) of the British Royal Air Force and the women who played a part in it. It’s about the “Rabbits”, 86 women on whom brutal medical experiments were conducted without consent, whilst prisoners in Ravensbrück. Its about some of the themes and characters of an earlier (and also excellent, award winning) novel by Wein, Code Name Verity, exploring their lives later in the war. It’s a riveting, deeply moving book, and one of the questions it raises is about how to bear witness to the Holocaust.

I felt the best way I could do that right now, was to interview Wein.

Playing by the book: Rose Under Fire tells a (fictional) account of an American civilian’s experience of her time in Ravensbrück concentration camp towards the end of the Second World War. It is beautiful, sensitive, and brimming with passion, love, hope. It is also utterly harrowing to read. I don’t think I stopped sobbing for the last 100 pages. What on earth was it like to write? (In the afterword you share one instance where you did cry, but the experience of reading it is so emotionally draining – and in equal measure emotionally uplifting – that I can’t believe researching and writing it was any easier on the heart.)

Elizabeth Wein: While I was writing it I kept torturing myself with my inability to tell this story — not only because I can’t possibly experience what these people experienced, but also because of my cowardice in being unable to come close to it. Could I live on a couple of pieces of bread and a bowl of broth every day for a week? I could, but I didn’t. Could I stand outside without a coat in the freezing rain for an hour or two? I could, but I didn’t. I was scared to do it: scared of cold, scared of hunger. And it felt wrong to try, since whatever I did to try to get into their shoes, I wasn’t going to be in their shoes.

And then, there were things that I couldn’t bring myself to write. I baulked at describing how they used cadavers to make the roll calls come out right. For some reason this seemed like my limit — the boundary I couldn’t cross. And then I crossed it anyway because if I don’t tell it, who’s going to know?

Playing by the book: Did you have to lock yourself away? Did you lead parallel lives for the duration, whilst writing? Did you find yourself like Rose becoming immune on some level to the horror?

Elizabeth Wein: Often, I used gaps in Rose’s memory to account for details I didn’t want to have to describe. Rose describes herself as becoming immune to the horror, but it’s probably more accurate to say you get used to it. I’ve discovered that my “immunity” is very specifically related to Ravensbrück itself. I have a heightened familiarity with that particular camp, and I’m fortified against anything I find out that happened there. But when I hear about the atrocities that happened at other camps, places I’m less familiar with, a whole new level of horror hits me. It’s like the inmates of Ravensbrück struggling to understand the rumours coming out of Auschwitz — impossible to comprehend unless you’ve seen it for yourself.

I dreamed a lot about Ravensbrück while I was writing Rose Under Fire, and I never dream about my books. Never. Curiously, in most of my dreams I was visiting, either as an onlooker or at a memorial site in the present day. Sometimes I was being treated as a prisoner, but it was always a simulation—never the real thing.

Playing by the book: Given the emotional intensity of the book I wondered if you have been able to read it since it was published – to revisit it. In the novel, two prisoners from Ravensbruck explore so thoughtfully how difficult it is for them to revisit their experiences (in the context of considering being witnesses at war crime trials after the war is over) and I wondered if you had experienced something like it with your own bearing witness.

Elizabeth Wein: One of my fears is that I’m going to be asked to read Rose’s poems in public and that, like her, I’m not going to be able to do this.

There are some things I can’t talk about. But I can’t write about them either, so yes, I guess I am like my made-up characters in the limits to which I can bear witness. An example is mothers and children in the camps. I managed to write about the cadavers, but not about mothers protecting and losing their children. I know a lot of things I can’t talk about. I guess that’s what makes me feel instinctively that some prisoners might have trouble following through with the promise to “Tell the world.”

Playing by the book: My response to your book got me thinking about “ownership” of stories about the holocaust. Part of me felt guilt for enjoying so very much a book that was only possible because real people suffered, died in the most awful of circumstances. But then I felt that perhaps it is ok for me to feel so connected to Rose’s story because it is about humankind (and the worst of humanity) and we need such stories to feel vital and relevant to us in the hope that it prevents anything like it happening again (and to remind us of the goodness, kindness, beauty all around in everyday life). As the writer of the story how did you feel about ownership? And about the relationship between “truth” and imagined stories?

Elizabeth Wein: This is so true, and so hard, and I talked about it a little in my answer to your question about what it was like to write the book. I really did feel, a lot of the time, that this was not my story to tell. But if I don’t tell it, who is going to any more? The books by the few survivors who tell their own stories are dated and out of print—and not necessarily accessible even when it’s possible to get hold of them. Several of my main sources I had to read in French. So I am telling it as far as I am able. But I don’t own this story. It belongs to the real people who lived it. I am just passing it on — a similar role to Rose’s.

As far as truth is concerned, I tried very hard not to misrepresent anything or sensationalize anything that happened within the context of Ravensbrück. There may be errors, but most of the incidents I’ve described are based on survivor accounts. I guess the difficulty is that the reader doesn’t know how much to believe. I don’t know how to remedy that in fiction — I mean, after all, for all my good intentions, it is a work of fiction.

It never occurred to me to feel guilty about anyone “enjoying” the read, though! The whole time I was writing it I kept thinking, “WHO is going to want to read this? NOBODY is going to want to read this!”

It’s true. I’m rather astonished, and delighted, to find that people are connecting with it so deeply.

Playing by the book: Ownership in another sense intrigued me; you state in the acknowledgements that your editorial team was “much more actively involved” in the creation of Rose Under Fire. Can you share a little more about this, and about how this different sort of genesis for a story felt for you as a writer

Elizabeth Wein: Well, mainly this was because I was operating under a deadline. I’ve written work-for-hire novels before to a deadline, but never a full-length book of my own creation, and that meant that I delivered a manuscript which I considered less than perfect. As a result, I was given more editorial direction in polishing the rough draft than I’ve ever had before.

I’d say that the structure of the novel changed a little as a result, but not the fabric of it. We removed some extraneous scenes and characters. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the work was that I had three editors working on this at the same time – Stella Paskins at Egmont in the UK, Catherine Onder at Disney Hyperion in the USA, and Janice Weaver at Doubleday in Canada— and they all had to be consulted and they all had to agree on any changes that I made.

It was actually Stella who came up with the title. All four of us, and my agent Ginger Clark as well, had been emailing back and forth for weeks trying out different combinations of stressful descriptive situations involving the name Rose! We all agreed, from the start, that Rose’s name should be part of the title. My working title was simply “Rose’s Book.”

I was reluctant to give up my control over the timing of the manuscript, but I really did need guidance on the revision, and was grateful for it.

Playing by the book: As part of the research for this novel you visited Ravensbruck. What it the place like today? What still exists? And what did it feel like to be there? Are any of the “Rabbits” (the name given to the women who were experimented on in Ravensbruck, and who play a major role in Rose Under Fire) still alive?

Elizabeth Wein: After the war Ravensbrück ended up deep inside East Germany, and for fifty years it was used as a Soviet Army base. So it had an active and complex history for a long time after it ceased to be a concentration camp. Under the Soviet administration a memorial site was dedicated there in 1959, so the buildings that were part of that project were preserved (essentially, the prison block). The SS barracks outside the camp walls were all used as Soviet officers’ quarters so they are all still standing and are in good shape. They are now part of the current museum and memorial site and also house a youth hostel.

A few of the factory buildings and the walls are still there, but none of the barracks remain standing. The main part of the camp has been cleared and the surface is spread with black cinders, to replicate the memorable ground cover at the time of the camp. Depressions in the ground mark where the barracks stood. Trees that were planted when the camp was first built have now matured, so the effect is that of an open plaza or park.

The administration building where new prisoners were processed no longer stands, but the red-tiled floor of the shower room has been preserved because the initial dehumanizing process of being made to strip, shower, then get your head shaved and be issued with prison clothes was a hugely traumatic experience for most prisoners and made a lasting impression on them. Even those who had been in prison for months before arriving at Ravensbrück found this process shocking.

For me, it was amazing to be at Ravensbrück. I had been so mentally invested in this place for so long (two years) before I finally got to see it. I think in some sense it must be a pale reflection of what a survivor would feel travelling back for a memorial ceremony—it obviously isn’t the place you knew, and yet you recognize it. I knew my way around. I actually ended up giving tours to some of the other people attending the summer school we were enrolled in, because most of them were there for the seminar and not because of the location, so I knew considerably more about the camp than my colleagues.

I wrote a couple of blog entries, including photographs, while I was there:

Post from Ravensbrück
One More from Ravensbrück

I believe a few of the “Rabbits” are still alive, but I’m not sure which ones. I’ve been constructed a sort of memorial page on my website, with photographs and links to their biographies. I’m about half way through and so far I haven’t been able to confirm those who are still living, but many of them did live long and productive lives after the end of the war.

I believe Wanda Połtawska, the author of And I Am Afraid of My Dreams, is still alive. The heroic Girl Scout Wacława Andrzejak may also still be living.

Playing by the book: And talking of research for your novel, you hold a pilot’s licence and clearly love flying – your knowledge and passion shine through in both Rose Under Fire and Code Name Verity. As someone who doesn’t fly can you describe what it is like to pilot a plane?

Elizabeth Wein: Hahahahaha! That’s not really a question I can answer in a paragraph or two!

I think that what you really take away after a couple of lessons is that it’s actually just a mechanical skill, like driving, which you have to practise and practise until a lot of it becomes automatic. Maybe some people find it intuitive, but not me. You’re not soaring free in the sky like a bird on the wing: you’re checking your oil pressure, making time and distance and wind speed calculations, making sure the engine and radio are set correctly, etc. etc. Learning to fly is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The initial payback is a sense of satisfaction in doing a difficult job well (hopefully), and only then can you look around you and enjoy the beauty of the open sky. I try hard to get this across to my readers, too — it’s something you have to work at and take very seriously, but it really does open up wonders to you.

Playing by the book: What sort of plane do you normally fly? Of the planes you haven’t flown, what sort of plane would you like to fly?

Elizabeth Wein: I did all my training in a Cessna 152, which is a pretty standard training aircraft. Lately I’ve started flying a Piper Warrior, also known as a PA-28, which is a little bigger than a 152 (it seats 4 instead of 2!) and has low wings rather than high wings. They’re both single-engine planes. I am pretty short and find the Warrior is more comfortable for me to see out of!

Of course I dream of some day being able to try my hand at flying a Spitfire. I think every pilot does. But on a more realistic level, I’d really like to learn to fly a floatplane. I did get one lesson in one once. I have this dream where I become an expert seaplane pilot and own a little plane of my own and fly it around Scotland landing on lochs and staying at remote Victorian hotels.

Playing by the book: I understand that you are now working on a book set in Ethiopia in the run up to World War 2. Can you share a few more details? And do you have any hopes or plans to return to Maddie or Rose or any other character from Code Name Verity or Rose Under Fire in the future?

Elizabeth Wein: The new book is set during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, but its focus is on the transplanted American family who finds themselves caught up in it. There are a brother and a sister who learn to fly. I don’t really want to say more because I’m still in the middle of writing it and things are bound to change!

I do have an idea for a book set in the “next generation” of the Code Name Verity world, taking place in the early 1970s, which might feature some characters from CNV or ROSE. I guess what I should emphasize is that in my head, their stories continue before and after the events that take place in the novels. Maddie, I feel, is still alive today. My daughter and a friend and I were discussing a scenario where an elderly Maddie and Jamie are flying to France in the present day, on a scheduled commercial flight, and make a stink in security. Maddie: “I remember flying to France with no lights and 500 pounds of plastic explosive in the back and nobody made me take my shoes off!” Jamie: “You dinnae want to see my feet. I lost my toes in the North Sea.”

Playing by the book: Ah Elizabeth, yes! And how lovely to end the interview with laughter. Thank you. Thank you for your books, for your bearing witness, and – through your writing – for making me feel like I can be a better person than I am.

Elizabeth Wein’s website: http://www.elizabethwein.com/
Elizabeth Wein’s blog: http://eegatland.livejournal.com/
Elizabeth Wein on Twitter: @EWein2412
Elizabeth Wein’s keynote speech at the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ Conference 2013.

Thanks to Chalet Fan, whose review of Rose Under Fire made me drop everything and head straight to the bookshop.


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42195. Grateful for Wendy Robards

who took the long drive from her home in Northern California to join me at Book Passage in Corte Madera, where we gathered around a table with other talented writers and talked about truth. It was a remarkable morning. Wendy produced wonderful work. And when were done, we spent some time with Izzies and bruschetta, with mounds of garlic cloves.

Today, on a day that has so many of us thinking back, I am grateful to Wendy for taking the time to come see me, to read Handling the Truth, and to write this extraordinary review. Wendy is set to go to Florence, soon. I've been working hard, but perhaps not effectively enough, to get my Florence novel to her in the nick of time.

Hence my silence, mostly, here.

Right now, I can only say how grateful I am for this, and for the friendship.

A few (but just a few) of Wendy's words. Which made me cry on this day, when writing feels like such incredibly hard work.
Maybe you don’t want to write a memoir, so you think this book is not for you. But I encourage you to read it anyway, because within its pages are truths, “aha” moments, and beautiful writing. And if you only read it to get to the appendix of book recommendations – that is also worth your time. The research for this book was huge. Beth culls her formidable list of titles she read down to the best – many of which I have read and loved myself.

It was hot in Marin this past weekend – the day was heavy with sunshine, thick with an intense heat that had people rushing into shade – but sitting in the air conditioned environment of The Book Passage, the day fell away behind me. We were a small group, each of us there for different reasons and at different points in our writing abilities. We sniffed spices, shared photos, and scribbled down bits of memory and detail in short bursts of time. We shared. And we listened. We had the opportunity to get a glimpse into a writer’s soul and her passion, and reap the reward of doing so. It is not an experience I will soon forget.

Many thanks to Beth Kephart – to her willingness to share herself so completely with others, to fly through the dark, starry nights in order to touch the lives of her readers, and for her beautiful words of which I never tire of reading. You are a treasure. And so is your latest book – Handling the Truth.

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42196. Stephen King Readathon October 2013 Sign Up Sheet

Quick break from Rainbow Reads for something I've suggested for a couple of weeks.

 Stephen King readathon! 

I want to do this because I'm loving watching Under the Dome, I enjoyed some of his stuff a couple of years ago, and I feel I should read some more of his stuff. What better time than Halloween (ish), eh?

Anyway, if anyone else wants to take part, please do.

  • It would happen from Monday 14 till Sunday 20th October.  
  • There will be no prizes for participating, except hopefully having read and enjoyed books from a prolific horror/suspense author.
  • I will be doing this regardless of whether or not anyone else joins me. 
  • All my reviews will be posted in the days leading up to Halloween.
  • Any participants should totally follow for follow and keep in touch and things. 
  • Spreading the word would be awesome. 

I hope you enjoy, if you choose to join me.

Signups below.

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42197. Me and Raylan, Raylan and me.

At work today, Raylan Givens helped me catalog some Amish romances:


Then he put some way out-of-date Book Review Digests in their place:


And then, finally, Josh stopped by the library and, while I was helping a patron, took it upon himself to fix Raylan's hat:


So, that was my day.

How was yours?

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42198. Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales Run For Your ‘Rife! available Sept. 10th, 2013

Just in time for fall, and the start of the cold season, Warner Brothers Home Entertainment has released a brand new DVD - Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales Run For YourRife!

This DVD is a little different because it features TV episodes from a variety of the Scooby Doo shows - including Scooby-Doo Where are You!, Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour, The Scooby & Scrappy Doo Puppy Hour and others. Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales Run For YourRife! will also include an all-new original episode titled Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Scarecrow.

Episodes Include - 

  •  Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Scarecrow – All new 22-minute cartoon
  • Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Werewolf, Scooby and the gang’s camping trip is disrupted when they encounter a werewolf who has been lurking around their campsite.  
  •  A Tiki Scare is No Fair, the Mystery Inc.’s Hawaiian vacation is interrupted by a witch doctor who warns them of the wrath of god Mano Tiki Tia
  •  Hang in there, Scooby-Doo, featues a ghost dinosaur
  •  A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts
  •  Scared A Lot in Camelot
  •  Which Witch is Which
  •  Snow Job Too Small 
  • The Stoney Glare 
  • Scooby Doo and a Mummy, Too 
  • A Scooby-Doo Halloween
  •  Scoobra-Kadoobra 
  • Scooby in Kwackyland
 To Buy - Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales Run For YourRife! is avalable for purchase on Sept. 10th 2013,  and retails for $19.98.  But you can get it right now on Amazon for $17.98

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. 

0 Comments on Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales Run For Your ‘Rife! available Sept. 10th, 2013 as of 1/1/1900
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42199. Extracurricular Reading

I think it is not uncommon that avid readers read all sorts of things, not just books. Non-book reading I think of as extracurricular. Reading like blogs, news and magazines (print and digital). I’ve been considering my extracurricular reading of late since it has been piling up as fast as my books have it seems.

I subscribe to the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books in print. I am so behind on these that the date of the one I am currently reading is the end of June. I enjoy reading these but I have managed to get so far behind some of the essays are old news at this point and seem hardly worth reading so I skip right over them. You would think that it would help me get through them faster but somehow it doesn’t.

And then there are the digital magazines I get through my public library. Ever since I got my iPad in April and discovered this lovely service I have been sampling the various magazines on offer. They are quite diverse and most of the time of no interest (motorcycles, hunting, skiing, skateboarding, celebrity and fashion magazines), but still I manage to find plenty to read. I currently regularly get Harper’s, The Vegetarian Times, Smithsonian, Discover, Organic Gardening, Mother Earth News, American Poetry, Poets and Writers, and The Writer. I make occasional forays into New Scientist, Mother Jones, Knitter’s, Interweave Knits, Publisher’s Weekly and Earth. Most of these I just browse through and read an article here or an essay there, copy down a book title or a new recipe. Nonetheless, I have several I haven’t even looked at yet.

So why, why did I subscribe to the Paris Review two weeks ago? I got a one-year digital subscription. When I subscribed it was still the Summer issue they were sending out and I got a bonus older issue too. Then, three days later the Fall issue came out. I should have waited because I suspected the Fall issue was not far away but the Summer issue has a couple essays on the art of writing biography and one of them is by Hermione Lee so I didn’t wait. And now I am already behind. At least they are digital so there is nowhere for the dust bunnies to hide. And they only come quarterly so I have a remote chance of catching up.

I am not sorry for subscribing to the Paris Review. I have so far read a pretty good short story by Ben Lerner and since I don’t read many short stories in general I am thinking this is a good way to do that. And since each issue also has lots of poetry I might also discover a new favorite poet or two. So it is good. Except where do I find the time? When the choice is between reading a book and reading a magazine even one as good as Paris Review, I go for the book nine times out of ten. And that is why I am so behind on my extracurricular reading. I could cut back on the amount of extra reading, after all, I got along fine for years without all those magazines I get now through my library. But oh, there are so many interesting things out there to learn about especially in those science magazines. I will have to work a little on practicing restraint because I definitely won’t opt for reading fewer books.

What about you? What sort of extracurricular reading do you do and how do you find the time to fit it all in?

Filed under: Books, Reading

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42200. [PR] VIZ Media Announces Return of Ranma ½ To North America!

{ED – Ranma 1/2 is the series that got me hooked on anime and manga.  It was so different from anything that I had seen before, and I still love it.  It’s a fun show, so if you haven’t seen it, check it out!}



Legendary Martial Arts-Action-Adventure-Comedy Manga Created By Rumiko Takahashi Debuts In 2-in-1 Editions Spring 2014; Anime Launches Today On VIZAnime.com; Neon Alley, Blu-ray And DVD Debuts Coming Soon

San Francisco, CA, September 11, 2013 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, has announced the return of one of the genre’s most celebrated manga and anime properties – RANMA ½.

RANMA ½ is a renowned martial arts action-adventure manga (graphic novel) series created by Rumiko Takahashi. The manga series was a staple of the VIZ Media catalog for over 14 years and remains one of the company’s longest-running titles and one of the longest-running manga series in North America. VIZ Media plans to begin publishing the RANMA ½ manga series (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) in new 2-in-1 omnibus editions featuring the original right-to-left reading format for the first time ever in early 2014.

VIZ Media today also launches the smash-hit RANMA ½ (subtitled, rated TV-14) anime series on its VIZAnime.com streaming service as well as on Hulu. The series will debut on its Neon Alley anime channel this fall (dubbed), and will be available on DVD and, for the first time ever, Blu-ray box set editions next year.

To celebrate the return of RANMA ½, VIZ Media is planning a variety of booth activities and special programming scheduled for the 2013 New York Comic-Con, taking place October 10-13 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. More details will be announced shortly.

Ranma Saotome never thought a martial arts training mission to China would turn out like this! Due to an unfortunate accident at the cursed Chinese training ground Jusenkyo, when Ranma and his father get splashed with cold water, papa turns into a giant panda and male Ranma becomes a buxom young woman! Hot water reverses the effect, but only until the next time! Constantly chased by battle-happy martial artists and lovesick suitors of both sexes, what’s a half-boy, half-girl martial artist to do?

“A groundbreaking story with eccentric characters, martial arts mayhem, and quirky romantic subplots, RANMA ½ is a zany adventure that has thrilled generations of fans with its colorful mix of action, romance and screwball comedy,” says Leyla Aker, Vice President, Publishing. “We’re delighted to deliver this classic manga series to a new legion of North American fans this spring in 2-in-1 editions presented in right-to-left format for the first time.”

“RANMA ½ also introduced many influential artists to manga and anime fandom, and it remains a celebrated piece of the genre’s history,” adds Brian Ige, VIZ Media Vice President of Animation. “The addition of the anime series to our extensive digital catalog will present these acclaimed episodes in an entirely new way and allow fans to take advantage of the convenience and flexibility that VIZAnime and Neon Alley offer. Fans can also look forward to the hi-definition Blu-ray and DVD release this spring!”

Rumiko Takahashi is one of Japan’s most prolific and respected manga artists and is the creator of several long running series including MAISON IKKOKU, RANMA 1/2, and INUYASHA – all published in North America by VIZ Media. The spotlight on her prolific career began in 1978 when she won an honorable mention in Shogakukan’s annual New Comic Artist Contest for Those Selfish Aliens. Later that same year, her boy-meets-alien comedy series, Urusei Yatsura, was serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday. This phenomenally successful manga series was adapted into anime format and also spawned a TV series and half a dozen theatrical-release movies, all incredibly popular. Takahashi followed up the success of her debut series with one blockbuster hit after another— MAISON IKKOKU ran from 1980 to 1987, RANMA ½ from 1987 to 1996, and INUYASHA from 1996 to 2008. Other notable works include MERMAID SAGA, RUMIC THEATER, ONE-POUND GOSPEL, and RIN-NE (all also published in North America by VIZ Media).

For more information on Rumiko Takahashi titles by VIZ Media, please visit www.VIZ.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan. Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular digital manga anthology WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages. VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products. Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at www.VIZ.com.

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