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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1540 Blogs, since 1/28/2008 [Help]
Results 42,176 - 42,200 of 487,564
42176. Social Media Marketing - Businesses Using Twitter Should Act (and Tweet) Like People

Guest post by Emma-Julie Twitter is one of the top 2 social networking sites in the world and, according to this statistic, as of May 2013 there were over 550 million registered Twitter accounts. Although many of those are not active users and are merely “following” the tweets of famous celebrities, friends and brands, there are still 58 million tweets counted each day, and for each second

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42177. Friday 56: The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau




Welcome to this week's Friday 56 - this Friday 56 comes from The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau.  I discovered Nancy Bilyeau when I heard her speak at ThrillerFest 2013 in New York last July.  She participated in the panel "Who Killed Jack the Ripper?:  Putting the Mystery in History."  
The panel itself was wonderful.  Steve Berry acted as Panel Master while Nancy Bilyeau, William Dietrich, C.W. Gortner, David Liss, David Morrell and M.J. Rose all spoke about their experiences writing historical novels.  I will write more about the actual discussion in another post.  I left the panel with authors that I wanted to learn more about and books to read.

Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56 or 56% on your e-reader/
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions 
on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*
Post a link along with your post back to this blog and to Freda's Voice at http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's my Friday 56 from The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau
But reports of Arthur's growth, dreams of a tapestry business, my missing my father - it was all so very personal.
The blurb:
In 1538, England's bloody power struggle between crown and cross threatens to tear the country apart. Novice Joanna Stafford has tasted the wrath of the royal court, discovered what lies within the king's torture rooms, and escaped death at the hands of those desperate to possess the power of an ancient relic.

Even with all she has experienced, the quiet life is not for Joanna.   Despite the possibilities of arrest and imprisonment, she becomes caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting Henry VIII himself.  As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna realizes her role is more critical than she'd ever imagined.  She must choose between those she loves most and assuming her part in a prophecy foretold by three seers. Repelled by violence, Joanna seizes a future with a man who loves her.  But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny.

To learn the final, sinister piece of the prophecy, she flees across Europe with a corrupt spy sent by Spain.  As she completes the puzzle in the dungeon of a twelfth-century Belgian fortress, Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christiandom are in her hands -- hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies.

About the Author:
Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown, is a writer and magazine editor who has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Ladie's Home Journal, and Good Housekeeping; she is currently executive editor of DeJour magazine.  A native of the Midwest, she graduated from University of Michigan.  She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.  Learn more about her at NancyBilyeau.com

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42178. Seahorses and Coral Reefs

Seahorses  by Jennifer Keats Curtis; illustrated by Chad Wallace  Henry Holt and Company. 2013  ISBN: 9780805092394  Preschool to Grade 2  I borrowed this book from my local public library.  Two new books about what lives in our oceans.  In Seahorses, Jennifer Keats Curtis uses rich language to give a brief overview of the life of this fascinating sea creature.   In the warm, salty water, a

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42179. Give Bikes a Second Life

When you children outgrow their bikes or want the next, newest one, don’t just throw away the old two wheelers.   in 2009 Kerri Martin opened her non-profit business Second Life Bikes.  What’s unique about the company is that if a child wants a bike, he/she must spend some time working on repairing it and refurbishing bikes for others…a sort of sweat-equity.  Kerri teaches the boys and girls about bike repair and operation, job skills and work ethic.  Troubled youth can do community service in her shop.  She’s also planning to expand into more formal training, welding instruction, nutrition classes and riding clubs.

To learn more about this wonderful program or to make a donation, go to: http://www.secondlifebikes.org


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42180. "I'm trying to think of the less obvious ones" (an eleven year old's recommendations)

One of the things that has been discouraging me lately about writing is that so many children on this island who USED TO read are now obsessed with computer games -- especially Mine Craft. "Obsessed" is their word -- they play it (though over the summer holidays many parents have banned screen time either completely or from 9 to 5) and talk about it with each other when they can't play it.

So I was more interested even than I would normally have been to meet a visiting eleven year old girl who passed on watching a movie with all the other kids so she could finish a book. Later I asked about her favorites, saying I was without ANYTHING good....and we liked so many of the same books that I have high hopes of her list.

It contains no classics, not because she hasn't read them (she has!), but because she assumed I had, too.

"I'm trying to think of the less obvious ones," she said when she paused.

Books we had both read and loved include Howl's Moving Castle, Five Children and It, Matilda, The Hobbit, A Little Princess (which she liked better than The Secret Garden), the Little House books (though she had been unable to get any 'after the fourth one' -- I think she gets most of her books from the library), all the Mary Poppins books (though she hadn't been able to get the 4th), The Little Book Room by Eleanor Farjeon...

She had never heard of Harriet the Spy or Saffy's Angel and the others in that series or Homecoming. Here is her list -- I've already purchased several of them on Kindle (going to a bookstore means spending one night on the mainland if I leave here Monday morning, two nights if I leave any other day; getting physical books online waiting at least 5 days) and one as a used book. So yes, of necessity I have become a screen reader. I'm even thinking of buying a Kindle, since people say it's easier on your eyes than an ipad.



Bracelet of Bones by Kevin Crosby Holland (Viking times)

The Flask by Teresa Sweet

Wonder

The Silver Curlew (retelling of the Cinderella story with illustrations by Ernest Shepherd -- paid £14 for this -- in an "acceptable" condition, copies in good condition cost up to £125!) by Eleanor Farjeon


The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Firespell "really really good, about a girl who's turned into a puppet" Hmmm....I did not mention Pinncohio and did buy it

Sky Hawk

The Silver Bead

Wolf Brother (I really like the Kindle cover...)


War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

This long list reminds me of what our (BRGs' -- not the editorial we!) Alissa said once:
"I think sometimes editors how many books little girls who love to read do read."

Over a visit of only a few days Elizabeth finished at least 3 books.

Now that is also encouraging.

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42181. Whispering Woods

I'm headed off later this afternoon to one of the highlights of my writing year:  the Whispering Woods Picture Book Writing Workshop/Retreat. I'm one of the facilitators, along with my author friend Linda Skeers, so obviously I'm biased, but I urge all of you to someday try an away-from-home writing workshop/retreat. It can be nothing short of life changing. Briefly...

1.  You get to focus solely on your passion – writing for kids – in a warm, friendly, no-distractions atmosphere.

2.  You make new friends (the importance of friendship and support from other writers is crucial, at least for me).

3.  Your work is read and compassionately critiqued by people who understand how tough it is to put yourself out there – they're doing it, too.



My first writing retreat was one sponsored by SCBWI-IL. Technically, it wasn't a workshop, but it was the first time I'd spent an entire weekend focused on my writing, so I'm counting it. I met amazing writers at every turn, people with whom I felt an instant rapport (Esther!). I made a connection with a sweetheart of an editor. But the best, most affecting thing about that weekend? I came away feeling like a writer. For the first time. (People who don't write might not get that, but I know most of you will.) It was almost as though I'd finally been given permission to take my writing seriously. I know, I know. Nobody has to GIVE us permission to follow our dreams, but with a busy husband and three active kiddos, it was way too easy to put my "little hobby" on the back burner. The positive feedback I got on my writing made me realize that a career in children's books wasn't a fantasy.

I've heard great things about on-line workshops. And sometimes those are the best option – maybe the only option – for writers who cannot get away. (I wish the internet had been around when I was starting out!)

I've also heard (or read about online, anyway) writing workshop horror stories about nasty critiquers and jealous/pompous/frustrated instructors, but I believe (hope!) those are rare (or nonexistent) at workshops centered on writing for children.

So if you can swing it someday, go for an in-person workshop. Do your homework first, of course. Look for online reviews of whichever one you're considering. Talk to others who have attended, if possible. Then, when you feel ready, take the plunge.



Truthfully, I get as much as I give at Whispering Woods. Talking about writing all weekend, reading dozens of quality picture books, reading and critiquing the work of others....All that concentrated picture book STUDY improves my own writing as much as I hope attendees are improving theirs.

I love it when everybody wins.

Jill Esbaum
(photos were taken by me on the grounds of the retreat facility here in eastern Iowa where Linda and I hold our workshop)

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42182. Ted Hughes - Remains of Elmet

In the early was the last Celtic kingdom to fall, and in the 1800's it became the cradle for the Industrial Revolution in textiles. Gradually, the mills of the district and their attendant chapels died, and now they are virtually dead. Ted Hughes watched this process, and the book of poems is a wonderful comment on the valley, the industrial decay, the landscape, and its peoples during this time. 

                                   In memory of Edith Farrar
Ted Hughes, from his original 1949 collection 'Remains of Elmet'

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42183. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong: Review Haiku

Robotics geeks and
evil cheerleaders team up
for mutual gain.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks. First Second, 2013, 280 pages.

2 Comments on Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong: Review Haiku, last added: 8/12/2013
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42184. a roller coaster called kindergarten


As I return to "real" life after a long and fantastic trip to the France and Italy of our extended family, I'm grateful to Mary Lee for wisely reminding me that control is my favorite illusion:


It's the same feeling you get
just after you've nudged the sled
over the shoulder
of the hill.
Movement becomes momentum
and quickly shifts
to catapulting and careening.

You relinquish control
and hold on
for the ride.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013

I'm also grateful to my father for sending me this poem that he found in the pages of the always stimulating Christian Century magazine.  It reminds me that it's not about the weight of the papers and planning and posters and pencils; the joy in this ride comes from the small mammals strapped in next to you on the roller coaster.

If I become like you, I will write about a roughed grouse | Brian Doyle

If I become like you I will write about a roughed grouse,
Says the boy, five years old, with a face like a chipmunk
Storing up winter browse. We are at his school, where he
And the other small mammals have written things for me
On bright scraps of paper. He hands me his paper and I’ll
Carry it in my wallet the rest of my life. Mister Brian, the
Sun is raining all around, another child says to me. It is up
And down sun, she says. I want to be a cookie when I’m
Your age, says another child. Once we were all monkeys
In skirts made from the skins of trees, says a boy with an
Icicle tattoo. It’s templorary, he says, explaining it to me.

I laugh and he laughs and every kid there starts laughing.
I think I am going to fly up gently into the air over a tree
From joy, as saints used to float when gripped by ecstasy.
That happened to Saint Joseph Cupertino, you remember,
Seventy times, it is said, and now I know why: no gravity.


----------------------------
I hope to make this the last poem written for adults for a good while and challenge myself to do that thing I like best, which is write for kids.  I thank Margaret over at the round-up at Reflections on the Teche for reminding me what a supportive community this is; I think I'm going to need it.

For now, I will lower my expectations a bit.  The title is for the grown-ups, but the poem works for little ones.


On Rearranging the Classroom, Again

It really matters where you sit,
whichever way you look at it.
Choose the middle of the middle;
that way you see it all a little.

Heidi Mordhorst 2013

                                  And here's a photo I came across that I just need to share...
 
 
 

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42185. A Pathetic Excuse for a Blog Post


Okay, y'all...

...I'm trying to write a book and enjoy the summer.

At the same time!

So the blog posting has been more than a little slack lately.

Here then, is the first in a series I'm calling A Pathetic Excuse for a Blog Post

In which I offer one piece of advice from an old farmer. 

(Note: I would give credit to the old farmer, but I have no idea who he is and everyone else on the internet is lifting his stuff, so sorry, old farmer, wherever you are.)

Piece of Advice #1:

Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.

(Note: My apologies to bankers everywhere. Trust me, I love you when I need you. )

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42186. My tweets

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42187. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales : Donner Dinner Party, written and illustrated by Nathan Hale, 126 pp, RL : 3

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - DONNER DINNER PARTY -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> I'll be honest, for as much as a don't like history and I do LOVE Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, the first two books in what I hope is a very long running

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42188. Using metaphor in speculative fiction


      One thing I love about writing speculative fiction is you can amplify an aspect of the real world and it becomes metaphor. In my novel, Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences, I was trying to use an alien invasion to explore ideas about corporate greed and colonialism and power and what happens when a much more powerful civilization meets a weaker one. We know, from our own past, what often happens. This time all of earth is on the short end of that stick. OK, I want to tell a story, too, and make the language sing and make interesting characters, but the metaphor—the power of comparison and the various shades of mythical memory they can inspire—opened up many opportunities.
     The sequel of my alien duology is Homicidal Aliens & Other Inconveniences. This one plays more with myth, trying to use ideas of the “hero” to give the story  and main character more emotional depth.
     In Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series one of the evil characters can actually change the way people think. It’s his grace. Of course we see this kind of influence all the time--sometimes in the minor way of a dynamic speaker and sometimes in the more extreme way such as cult leaders like Manson and political tyrants like Hitler etc… She amplifies this kind of characteristic and uses the metaphor to give the story and character deeper value.
     I think fantasy and sci-fi often are situational stories. There are great opportunities to use metaphor in any story but particularly in speculative fiction.

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42189. The Writers’ Notebook: Story Starters


The Writers’ Notebook: Story Starters
Where do you get the ideas for your stories? It’s probably the most common question writers are asked, though often I’m not sure exactly where the ideas have come from until the story’s finished, and I can trace it backwards.
Ideas can come from anywhere, from everything you see, hear, feel, imagine or dream. I think what tends to changes some of those experiences from just being interesting into inspiration for a story is how many questions can be asked from them.
Sometimes it could simply be an object in an unexpected place that sets you to wondering; sometimes you see part of a story enacted in front of you, leaving you dying to know the ending.
Here’s an example of each of these extremes – including how I found them, just to prove that you don’t have to be doing anything very dramatic to find story ideas.
Found object: I was walking the dog down a path near our house when I spotted a haircomb tangled in an overhanging twig. It was black plastic, nothing fancy, and the twig was a little lower than my head height. So how did it get there? Why didn’t the wearer notice it being pulled from her head? And who was she?
The most logical explanation is that it was a girl a little shorter than me, who hadn’t noticed because she was daydreaming or hurrying – but what was she dreaming about, or why was she hurrying? Maybe she was taller than me and was ducking for some reason. Or maybe she was a small child on a Shetland pony. Or maybe he was a boy; I’m just presuming it was a girl, but you don’t have to.
And what if: what if there was blood on it? What if it hadn’t been plastic, but jewelled? What if it had been one of this glorious pinterest collection?
Real life snippets: We were having lunch in a crowded café with long communal tables. The mature aged couple next to us were obviously on a first date: they were explaining various life details; they were consciously polite, tentative but happy. Suddenly she said she had to leave, and rushed out, leaving him looking crushed. An hour later, as we waited to buy tickets for an exhibition, we realised that they were in the queue behind us, seeming relaxed and happy – and quite excited at recognising us – maybe because, if their story was going to continue, we were now one of the details of its beginning.
But why did she leave? How did they get together? What are the backstories that led to them choosing an art exhibition as a first date? And most importantly, what happens next?
Nearly anything can be a story starter; it’s all about the questions you ask and where the answers take you.  

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42190. Interview Across a Breakfast Table: Should That Story Be Fiction or Non-Fiction?

On her blog and here, my wife and I continue our interrogations of each other…

Jenny: When the world around you sparks a story idea, how do you decide if it’s best told as nonfiction or as fiction inspired by real life?

Me: There’s hardly ever any gray area for me here. My nonfiction projects tend to begin with my discovery of an actual, amazing fact — or with my awareness of an actual person’s life filled with amazing facts — and so weaving those facts into a piece of fiction would be counter to the exciting sense of OH MY GOSH CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS REALLY HAPPENED? that I get at the moment of discovery.

A lot of my fiction stories do begin with my observation of something in the world around me, but those somethings are usually commonplace. It’s not the somethings themselves that hook me, but rather the series of what-if’s that my mind conjures up, that make me want to try turning those somethings into stories.

The one exception that comes to mind is a musician whose story I wanted to tell. I heard about her on a radio show when the host mentioned in passing an anecdote that seemed so vivid and telling that I knew it would be at the heart of a story I had to write. But the information and documentation that I would need about that episode and the musician’s life at that time in order for the story to be nonfiction — those did not exist, and my would-be subject had already died, so I couldn’t ask her. In that case, I did write a fictionalized story based on what I was able to learn — with that first striking anecdote front and center.

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42191. Rowling wins damages against Russells, Money to go to Charity

Miss Rowling brought charges against Chris Gossage (a Russells partner) and his friend, Judith Callegari, in London's High Court. The charges were of damages from the leak of confidential information concerning Miss Rowling's pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. "Ms Rowling, who was not in court, 'has been left dismayed and distressed by such a fundamental betrayal of trust' ".The firm will reimburse Rowling's legal charges, and make a payment in the form of a donation to the Soldier's Charity. Rowling's royalties from The Cuckoo's Calling will also be donated to the Soldier's Charity. Skynews reports:

Ms Rowling's solicitor, Jenny Afia, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that the author was revealed in the Sunday Times as the writer of crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling.

Ms Afia said that Ms Rowling, who was not in court, "has been left dismayed and distressed by such a fundamental betrayal of trust".

Mr Gossage, Ms Callegari and Russells all apologised, with the firm agreeing to reimburse Ms Rowling's legal costs and make a payment by way of damages to the Soldiers' Charity, formerly the Army Benevolent Fund.

A statement issued on the author's behalf said that all global net royalties which would otherwise have been paid to her from book sales of The Cuckoo's Calling would be donated to The Soldiers' Charity for a period of three years, dating from July 14 - the day that Galbraith's identity was made known.

She said: "This donation is being made to The Soldiers' Charity partly as a thank you to the Army people who helped me with research, but also because writing a hero who is a veteran has given me an even greater appreciation and understanding of exactly how much this charity does for ex-servicemen and their families, and how much that support is needed.

"I always intended to give The Soldiers' Charity a donation out of Robert's royalties but I had not anticipated him making the bestseller list a mere three months after publication - indeed, I had not counted on him ever being there."

Major General Martin Rutledge, chief executive of the charity, said: "We are absolutely thrilled by the extraordinary generosity of JK Rowling who is such an internationally renowned author.

"This donation will make a huge difference to the lives of thousands of soldiers, former soldiers and their families who are in real need.

"Her tremendous show of support for The Soldiers' Charity will help to remind people of the many sacrifices made by our soldiers, long after any news of Afghanistan has left the front page."

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42192. Summer Flashback: The Worcester Public Library

Thank you to my hometown library for hosting a launch party for Platypus Police Squad!

And guess who turned up. . .


My 1st grade teacher Mrs. Alisch! My sister Holly (pictured here) had her as a teacher, too. In fact, everybody in the Krosoczka family had her as a teacher over the years!


Also in attendance. . .


Mrs. Casey! Mrs. Casey gave me my first gig. She moderated the high school newspaper and hired me to be the cartoonist. And that role came at such a critical time in my life.


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42193. Review: Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind by Caroline Adderson

Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind. by Caroline Adderson. March 1, 2013. Kids Can Press. 130 pages. ISBN: 9781554535798
Jasper John Dooley is used to spending every Wednesday afternoon with his grandmother, Nan, but when she goes on a senior cruise for a week, he finds himself feeling totally abandoned. Though his parents try their best to keep him busy and upbeat, Jasper keeps thinking about what his grandmother must be doing in Alaska, and whether she is thinking of him. In this difficult week, Jasper also accidentally staples a paper to himself, meets a dreaded new babysitter, and brings home the class hamster, only to lose him somewhere in the house.

I liked the first Jasper John Dooley book very much, but this one was even better. This time around, I felt like I got a great sense of Jasper’s quirky personality and his unique outlook on life. Kids who are attached to their grandparents, or who have ever been forced to endure any kind of separation from a beloved family member will sympathize strongly with Jasper and will be as anxious as he is for Nan’s return. Kids will also love Jasper’s obsession with band-aids, as so many kids share that same fascination, and I imagine they will be equal parts amused and horrified at the moment when he accidentally staples himself.

Though Jasper John is obviously in early elementary school, I think kids as young as four can appreciate his outlook on life and enjoy reading about his experiences. The chapters in this book - and the book itself - are short enough to suit the attention spans of preschoolers who have begun listening to chapter books at bedtime, as well as the reading ability of newly independent readers. Jasper John Dooley’s personality will be especially welcomed by fans of Martin Bridge, Ellray Jakes, and Alvin Ho.

I borrowed Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind from my local public library. 

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat

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42194. ThresholdPaperArt - Close2Home Etsy Feature

Store Feature - ThresholdPaperArt - http://www.etsy.com/shop/ThresholdPaperArt


 Product - Paper Art, wall Art entitled Passionately Posies

About - I am a papermaker and artist. I'm the 'down home' type. It happens in my kitchen! This piece you see started its' life as paper pulp upcycled from other paper. When the pulp dries it leaves the cast designs you see.

Papermaking is a labor intensive process but one with great rewards. I have a passion for all that is unique and hand-made. I create one-of-a-kind pieces exploring themes such as faith and antiquity, utilizing embossing, embedding and casting techniques. The recurring theme is transformation. Even the paper I make goes through the process of being destroyed in its original plant form, only to be transformed into a work of art.

Support Handmade - This particular piece retails for $120, but products on her site start at just $25.  She said on the form that she'll give you a 10% discount if you saw it here, but she didn't give a coupon code so check with her first!


 Have your etsy/home business shop featured here in our Close2Home Friday Weekly Feature!

Clode2Home Fridays

This post is written by the Etsy Shop Owner as part of my Close to Home Feature.  I received nothing for this post.  I am not responsible for the giveaway prize - it is separate from this post and not sponsored by me.




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42195. tropical wedding paradise!



Getting married is what I've been up to! This is the illustration I created for our "Save the date", using washes and drop shadows for a collage effect.
The scene reflects the moment of my proposal on the same Mozambican beach on which we had our ceremony.
20 points to the first person to say which species our dogs are :)

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42196. Bill Finger’s Coney Island contribution to Joker

Multiple sources, including Bill Finger’s son Fred and Carmine Infantino, claimed that Bill derived some inspiration for the Joker from a grinning figure at Coney Island, in Brooklyn—specifically at an amusement park called Steeplechase Park.


Here is how I think the clown went down, though the proper order of the first two is lost to time:
  • Bill mentioned the grinning character he saw at Coney Island to the Bat-team (Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson).
  • Bill showed the team a photo book featuring Conrad Veidt in the 1928 film The Man Who Laughs.
  • Jerry designed the Joker caricature on his signature playing/calling card.
  • Bill wrote the first Joker story in late 1939 or early 1940. The character looked primarily like Veidt with an aura of the Steeplechase mascot.
 

But I’m not about to debate this. Rather I recount this simply to set up an image that I was jazzed to see.

DC Comics will be publishing a Harley Quinn series. And the first promo (possibly cover) image released features a fun nod to history that many will miss…but those who don’t will, well, grin.



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42197. Dianne K. Salerni's Seven Favorite Gothic Novels.

We hear the dead We hear the deadWhat with my soft spot for books about spiritualism, I enjoyed Dianne K. Salerni's We Hear the Dead wholeheartedly. It's a fictionalized account of the rise and fall of Kate and Maggie Fox, the sisters who are credited by many for bringing the Spiritualism Movement into the mainstream. 

Her most recent book, though, I LOVED. The Caged Graves features a pitch-perfect depiction of the complex relationships found in a small town, complete with decades-old rivalries and alliances; a mystery that involves murder and lost treasure and rumors of witchcraft and vampires; it's atmospheric and spooky, with lots and lots of great Gothic-style chills; Verity is a heroine who is bright and plucky and flawed and, my favorite, A PRODUCT OF HER OWN TIME PERIOD, rather than just a modern-day girl swanning around in a corset; a slow-burning romance that grows out of trust and friendship, rather than springing fully-formed out of simple physical attraction and raging hormones; and an Author's Note that gives us details about the real-life inspiration for the story.

If that sounds at all enticing, you should read it. It's excellent across the board, and you will not be disappointed.

If you've already read The Caged Graves and are looking for more creepy fun, take a spin through Dianne K. Salerni's list of her own seven favorite Gothic novels. If you're still waffling about picking it up, I suspect that her good taste will win you over:

Moura, by Virginia Coffman 

A young woman leaves her position at a girl’s school to become the governess of a former student at the haunted Chateau Moura. I don’t know how many times I read this book as a teenager. It’s rather like a retelling of Jane Eyre, except with creepy animal killings, secret passages, a suicide that might have been murder, and a ghost with bloody pulp for a face. (I’m fairly sure that’s how it was described in the book.)

We have always lived in the castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson 

Two sisters live in a mansion, ostracized by the townspeople and blamed for the mysterious poisoning that wiped out the rest of their family. The arrival of a cousin upsets their world and stirs up old talk of murder and witchcraft. This book was my first introduction to the unreliable narrator, and Mary Katherine Blackwood is as creepy as she appears on the cover of my edition.

The Album, by Mary Roberts Rinehart 

I could have put almost any Mary Roberts Rinehart mystery on this list. I read as many as I could lay my hands on, compulsively. But The Album was one of my favorites. Five connected families live in the five houses on The Crescent, making thirteen residents altogether (not counting the servants!), all hiding their own secrets and family skeletons, until the day old Mrs. Lancaster is “brutally and savagely done to death with an axe.”

My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du Maurier 

Everyone is familiar with Rebecca, but I prefer the lesser known Rachel and the shocking end of this book. When Philip’s cousin Ambrose dies of a strange illness shortly after marrying the enigmatic Rachel, he immediately suspects her of murdering her new husband for his fortune. Philip isn’t expecting to fall in love with Rachel himself—or to subsequently fall ill with the same symptoms that killed Ambrose.

The Ivy Tree, by Mary Stewart 

Mary Stewart is another mystery writer I read compulsively, but The Ivy Tree is probably the one I re-read the most, trying to catch all the clues strewn about by the unreliable narrator. After Mary Grey is nearly assaulted by a young man over a case of mistaken identity, it seems unlikely that this same young man could talk her into impersonating his cousin, Annabel Winslow. However, she does agree to impersonate the missing heiress – but not for the reason you think.

Album

Anna’s Book, by Barbara Vine 

This is one I read as an adult, re-read, and recommended to all mystery lovers. Barbara Vine (really Ruth Rendell) has several really good psychological mysteries, but Anna’s Book is particularly “gothic.” The diary of an Edwardian-era Danish immigrant to the UK is published by her daughter and unexpectedly becomes a best-seller. But, as her granddaughter discovers, it is the pages that were ripped out of the original diary which contain the key to two unsolved mysteries: a gruesome multiple murder and the disappearance of an infant.

The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice 

This was another book I read as an adult, and it’s got to be the most gothic of all gothic books. I don’t think it’s missing a single element of the genre: a family secret that traces back through generations, ghosts, witchcraft, murder, suicide, insanity, and a creepy old house. It seems impossible that anyone could read a 900+ page novel in one sitting, but I did.

Dianne K. Salerni is the author of the The Caged Graves and We Hear the Dead, and can be found online at her website, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Previously:

Beth Revis' Top Ten Modern YA Science Fiction novels.

Ten Books that Shaped Laura Lam's Pantomime.

Madness, Tortured Romance, and a Heck of a Lot of Castles: Megan Shepherd's Love Affair with Gothic Literature... or, Megan Shepherd's Eight Favorite Gothics.

Lauren Roedy Vaughn's Five Favorite Literary Adult Mentors... Plus Two Characters Who Need One.

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42198. I spy a writing contest!

I've enjoyed the first two books in Susan Elia Macneal's series so it's time to have a writing contest and give them to the lucky winner as the prize (Mr. Churchill's Secretary and Princess Elizabeth's Spy!)

The usual rules:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer

2. Use these words in the story:


blitz
tube
blackout
finest
hour

The word must be used in whole, but it does not have to be the whole of the word.

Hour/hourly is fine
blackout/blacked-out is not

3. Post your entry in the comments section of this blog post.

4. If you need a mulligan, a do-over, delete your entry and post again.  Only ONE entry (the latest
date stamp) will be considered.

5. All judging is subjective and frequently whimsical and moody.

6. Contest opens on Saturday August 3 at 9am, and closes Sunday August 4 at 9am.
All dates and times are Eastern Shark time.

Ready?
Set?

NOT YET!

ENTER!

oops, sorry, too late. Contest closed!

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42199. Updating Portfolio

I posted some new images on my portfolio with some designs that I have sold within the last couple of years - here is a fall floral that I sold to TJ Maxx  -


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42200. I Finally Got It!

After months of research and rooting around for a lead that will capture a reader's attention, set the tone, and establish the theme, I finally found it. Or at least I think I have. I won't tell you what it is because it might change.  If it stays the same and appears in the published version I'll tell you then.

The best feeling in the world is finally getting it. It doesn't even compare with seeing your book finally in print, 'but it comes close to how you feel when you get that contract, although it's better. Way better for me, because now I know I can write this book. Before I found it, I was flailing around doing too much research on tangential subjects. I'm the kind of writer who needs to know where I'm starting. I find it hard to move forward without it. It not only sets the tone for the reader, but also for me as I continue on through the manuscript. What literary devices have I set up that I can play with throughout the rest of the text?  What imagery can I return to?  When I come full circle, where will I end up? If I know the beginning then I know the end.

So, now that I've found it, I'm feeling pretty pumped. Then what do I do? I show it to someone. Never do that. I expected him/her (For full anonymity) to be just as excited. They weren't.

But that's okay. Because it doesn't matter anyway. My brain has already moved on to the next bit and I'm on a roll.



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