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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1546 Blogs, since 1/28/2008 [Help]
Results 42,176 - 42,200 of 503,929
42176. Spies and the burning Reichstag

By Benjamin Carter Hett

It is well known that someone set fire to the Reichstag in Berlin on the evening of 27 February 1933 – eighty-one years ago. It is also well known that Hitler’s new government took this opportunity to pass the Reichstag Fire Decree, gutting the Weimar constitution and effectively initiating a 12-year dictatorship. Many readers will know that ever since 1933 controversy has raged about who actually set fire to the Reichstag: was it the first step in a Communist coup, was it a Nazi conspiracy to supply a justification for their Decree, or was the rather confused young Dutch stonemason Marinus van der Lubbe telling the truth when he claimed he had set the fire himself?


Firemen work on the burning Reichstag, February 1933. Item from Record Group 208: Records of the Office of War Information, 1926 – 1951. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

One matter that is less well known, however, is just how much, and for how long, various intelligence services have taken an interest in these questions.

Spies were a part of the story from the beginning. In March 1933, a senior officer of Britain’s MI5 named Guy Liddell traveled to Germany to make contact with the newly reorganized German Secret Police (soon to be christened the Gestapo) and its leader, the brilliant but sinister Rudolf Diels. At the time, one of the main tasks facing Diels and his officers was the investigation of the Reichstag fire. Liddell wrote a long report on his experiences in Germany, noting among other things that the weakness of the police evidence against Marinus van der Lubbe led him to the view that “previous con­clusions that this incident was a piece of Nazi provocation to provide a pretext for the wholesale suppression of the German Communist Party were amply confirmed.”

After the Second World War, Rudolf Diels and the small group of his former Gestapo subordinates who had investigated the fire in 1933 faced a difficult legal situation. To varying degrees they had been involved in Nazi crimes (including the thoroughly corrupt fire investigation itself) and they had to navigate the tricky waters of war crimes and “denazification” investigations and prosecutions. One of their real advantages, however, was their intelligence experience – coupled with their undeniable anti-Communism. This made them attractive to the Western Allies’ intelligence services. Rudolf Diels was, for many years, a key paid source on politics in Germany for the American CIC (military counter intelligence). His payment, as recorded in a written contract from 1948, was 12 cartons of cigarettes per month, supplemented now and then by ration cards and cans of Crisco – the real sources of value in Germany at the time. A few years later one of the leading figures in the West German Federal Criminal Police (BKA) complained to American intelligence officers that overly-zealous prosecutions of ex-Nazi police officers were a Cold War danger. They were weakening the BKA to the point that West Germany itself would become “a push-over for Eastern intelligence services” and thus “a weak link and danger point in the whole Western defense system.” The CIA officer who recorded these comments noted that they were “worth attention.”

One of the things that Diels and his former subordinates had to worry about was the testimony and the book of a man named Hans Bernd Gisevius, who accused them of covering up Nazi guilt for the Reichstag fire as well as involvement in a number of murders. Gisevius had himself been a Gestapo officer in 1933; from there he went on to serve in Germany’s military intelligence service, the Abwehr, during the war – and became active in the resistance that led to the famous Valkyrie plot. Diels and Gisevius hated each other. Around 1950 many well-informed people – no doubt including Diels and Gisevius – thought these men were both candidates to head the newly created West German domestic intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. When Diels and Gisevius argued about who set the Reichstag fire – which they did both publicly and vitriolically – it is hard to overlook the fact that they were competing for jobs and influence in the emerging West German intelligence sector.

The Cold War also explained why the infamous East German Stasi spent many years and considerable effort doing its own discreet research into the Reichstag fire and the people who had been involved in it. Above all the Stasi hoped to find information that would discredit prominent East German dissidents, along with ex-Nazi police and intelligence officials in West Germany. The Stasi also tried to recruit at least one well-known western Reichstag fire researcher to be, in Stasi-speak, an “unofficial employee.”

But the most important link between intelligence services and the Reichstag fire came in the form of a man named Fritz Tobias, who from the 1950s to the 1970s was a senior official of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in the West German federal state of Lower Saxony. Earlier, in the 1940s – by his own account at least – he had served as a “scout” for the British Secret Intelligence Service. This meant that, while working on a “denazification” tribunal, he was supposed to keep his eyes open for former Nazis who might be useful to the British.

In 1951 Tobias started devoting his spare time – by his account, only his spare time – to research on the Reichstag fire. By the late 1950s his work was already becoming known, and, to some German officials, somewhat troubling. Tobias could and did use the powers of his office to get information. He was able to get access to classified documents that were closed to the public, and on at least one occasion he brought a prosecutor along with him to question a retired judge who had evidence to give about the fire. Was this all really just a spare time project? In the early 1960s, when Tobias’s lengthy book on the Reichstag fire was published (lengthy in German anyway – the English translation cut it by about half), Tobias used agents from the Office for Constitutional Protection to threaten academic historians who disagreed with his arguments, and blackmailed the director of a prestigious institute with classified documents revealing that director’s Nazi past. There seems at least a possibility that Tobias’s work was really an official commission. When asked about this while testifying in court in 1961, Tobias declined to answer because of his duty to maintain official secrets.

Why would German security services in the 1960s care about who had burned the Reichstag? There are several possibilities, admittedly only speculative. Tobias’s book, like Rudolf Diels’s before him, was to a considerable extent an attack on Hans Bernd Gisevius. Gisevius had made himself very unpopular with the West German government through his advocacy of a policy of neutrality in the Cold War and his friendship with gadflies like Martin Niemöller. There are materials in the FBI’s file on Gisevius (and yes, the bureau had one) that seem likely to have come from a German security service. There is also the issue that all the state and the Federal West German governments were very much on the defensive in the early 1960s about the number of senior officials they employed who had bad records from the Nazi era. Tobias’s own state of Lower Saxony was one of the worst offenders in this regard. Tobias’s book was very much a defense, indeed a glorification, of those former Gestapo officers who had worked with Rudolf Diels – one of whom, Walter Zirpins, had an office just down the hall from Fritz Tobias at the Lower Saxon Interior Ministry.

These spies and their various schemes make up a fascinating, if murky, part of this murky historical mystery.

Benjamin Carter Hett, a former trial lawyer and professor of history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, is the author of Burning the Reichstag, Death in the Tiergarten and Crossing Hitler, winner of the Fraenkel Prize.

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The post Spies and the burning Reichstag appeared first on OUPblog.

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42177. Graphic Novel Review: Attack on Titan V 2

May Contain Spoilers


Much like the first volume of Attack on Titan, this series just feels like a mish-mash of things I’ve read before.  The action picks up with the carnage after the wall has been breached by the human-eating monsters, and the precious few humans on Earth run scattering like chickens from foxes.  The young military graduates, newly recruited, are being slaughtered at an alarming rate.  Eren has already fallen in a gruesome attempt to rescue Armin, Mikasa is struggling to help the citizens save themselves from their own greed and privilege, and everyone has pretty much lost their minds during the bloodbath and ensuing feeding frenzy.

There’s a flashback to Mikasa’s meeting with Eren; her parents were murdered when she was a young girl, and she was kidnapped because she’s the last human of Asian descent.  Her kidnappers think they can sell her for a bundle on the black market, but Eren helps put an end to their horrible plan, giving Mikasa the drive to fight and save those important to her in the process.  I found this character defining moment somewhat enlightening – at least now I understand what drives Mikasa to be such a badass.  It also made less of a muddle Eren and Mikasa’s relationship, and gave a underlying reason for their strong bond and Mikasa’s loyalty to Eren.

There’s a lot of action in volume 2 – the humans are hopelessly overwhelmed by the towering Titans, and they quickly fall before them.  Lots of eating occurs.  Then a huge Titan lumbers onto the scene, ruthlessly tearing other Titans to pieces!  The page flipping got a little more frantic after that – I wasn’t sure how the Eren Titan came to be, but I have to admit that I was jarred out of my disinterest and I wanted to find out what’s up with all of that. 

I have decided to read through two more volumes of Attack on Titan to see if it can take a better hold of my imagination.  The art is still butt ugly, though the action panels are well rendered.  I guess I just don’t have as high a standard for death and dismemberment.  I like that the most capable and commanding character is a woman, and I admit to a certain curiosity regarding the Titans.  What are they?  Where did they come from?  Why do they keep gobbling up humans with unrestrained zeal?  And what, what, what is up with Eren??

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by my local library

From Amazon:

The Colossal Titan has breached humanity’s first line of defense, Wall Maria. Mikasa, the 104th Training Corps’ ace and Eren’s best friend, may be the only one capable of defeating them, but beneath her calm exterior lurks a dark past. When all looks lost, a new Titan appears and begins to slaughter its fellow Titans. Could this new monster be a blessing in disguise, or is the truth something much more sinister?
This volume of Attack on Titan includes special extras after the story!

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42178. Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates) by Caroline Carlson-Audiobook Review

Rating: 5/5

Genre: Adventure

Release Date: 9/10/2013

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About the Book: Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. But when her application to The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates is rejected because she's a girl and Hilary discovers that her parents will be sending her off to Miss Pimm's Finishing School to become a proper lady, Hilary knows she must do something! When she sees an ad for a pirate crew, Hilary knows she must apply! Hilary and her talking gargoyle set out on an adventure on the high seas looking for treasure and encounter a terrible villain of the high seas!

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I love a good rollicking fun filled adventure and The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates is the start to an adventurous series that is sure to delight middle grade readers.

Hilary is a spunky main character-just the sort of girl you would expect to sneak her way out of finishing school and join up with pirates. She's joined by a talking gargoyle who is very witty and has a soft spot for romance. The banter between the two characters is charming and hilarious and I loved the uniqueness of Hilary's sidekick being a talking magical object. Hilary has a delightful cast of characters around her-her governess who might just be up for some for adventure, her school roommate who aspires to be an actress, Jasper the pirate captain and his crew, her admiral father who wants to get rid or pirates and even the proper Miss Pimm. All the characters are well fleshed out and have a distinct personality.

The plot is fast paced and full of adventure. There are some great surprises and twists along the way and I loved how the author was able to weave the characters and storylines together. The ultimate bad guy is an interesting twist and I think it opens a lot for future volumes in the series. The writing is wonderfully funny and charming and Augusta is a very well drawn world in which magic is special-but currently being stolen-and pirates are determined by a Very Nearly Honorable League. It's a little bit historical and a little bit fantasy and a lot of action and adventure and fun.

What I especially loved about this one was Hilary herself. She wants to be a pirate and she won't give up on this dream. And she doesn't pose as a boy to make this dream come true. I feel like the girl-disguised-as-a-boy theme is often overdone and I was pleased that that didn't happen in this book but instead Hilary decides she won't take no for an answer and she'll be honest about who she is.

I first learned about this book thanks to the delightful Katherine Kellgren who narrates the audiobook, so I knew I had to listen to this one. I'm so glad I did! Kellgren is once again excellent and gives a rousing narration and you can tell she's having a blast telling this story. The writing is witty and the jokes come across wonderfully on audio. At the end of each chapter, the story is interspersed with letters and newspaper articles and Kellgren is given a chance to flex her narration skills by adding a breadth of voices to these sections. I especially loved her Miss Pimm voice and thought it had a great nod to Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey (I'm not sure if this was the intent but I loved it and thought it was perfect!) Kellgren gives Hilary a high energy and it balances well with Jasper's gruff pirate voice, Miss Greyson's (Hilary's governess) quiet sensibility, and her best friend from finishing school Claire, who is overly excitable and dramatic. This audiobook Katherine Kellgren doing what she does best-bringing a delightful cast of characters to an engaging story to make an excellent treat for the ears. I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Book Pairings: Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer,  Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook I purchased at Audible.com

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42179. The rise of music therapy

By Scott Huntington

Music therapy involves the use of clinical, evidence-supported musical interventions to meet a patient’s specific goals for healing (a useful fact sheet). The musical therapist should have the proper credentials and be licensed in the field of music therapy.

Music therapy is performed in rehabilitation centers such as 12 Keys Rehab, psychiatric and even general hospitals, private practices, nursing homes, schools, etc. to treat a wide variety of issues, including social, cognitive, emotional, and physical needs. After an initial assessment, the musical therapist prescribes a treatment plan in which the patient sings, moves and dances, creates, or simply listens to music. This experience facilitates a healthy outlet for patients to communicate and express their feelings, in addition to rehabilitating the patient physically.

Rand De Mattei, a music instructor with Blues in the Schools, gets in tune with Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyreen S. McRae, a participant in neurologic music therapy, at Naval Medical Center San Diego Feb. 28. Neurologic music therapy helps Wounded Warriors recover.

Rand De Mattei, a music instructor with Blues in the Schools, gets in tune with Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyreen S. McRae, a participant in neurologic music therapy, at Naval Medical Center San Diego Feb. 28. Neurologic music therapy helps Wounded Warriors recover. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Music therapy and special populations

As it has become more prevalent, music therapy has proven to be useful for a wide variety of populations. One such population is victims of crisis and trauma. After the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City, the American Music Therapy Association founded The New York City Music Therapy Relief Project. The goal of the project was to serve the children and adults living in the metropolitan vicinity by providing them with music therapy services. Some of these musical therapy programs were customized with the specific needs of caregivers in mind, targeting teachers, counselors, social workers, doctors, and nurses. More than 3,000 teachers and students were served through eleven different music therapy programs that reached out to eight local schools.

Music therapy has also been used in the treatment of mental illness. In addition to the basic care they should be receiving, music therapy helped patients with schizophrenia to achieve an enhanced mental state along with improving their overall condition. What’s more, music therapy has been shown to drastically reduce the unwanted symptoms these patients sometimes experience, making them more capable of having conversations with other people, thereby alleviating feelings of isolation and giving them more of an interest in what is going on around them.

Along with helping those suffering from schizophrenia, music therapy has also been used as an effective way to treat clinical depression. Studies have shown that when adolescents who were depressed listened to music, they had a notable drop in the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), and the left frontal lobe of their brain was activated, which was reported to be a positive outcome.

Those who struggle with anger have also benefited from music therapy treatments. When assessed with the Achenbach’s Teacher’s Report Form, music therapy patients made significant improvements on the scale of aggression and hostility. Studies suggest that group sessions of music therapy allow patients to express themselves in a positive way, transforming their aggression and rage into healthier forms of communication

While music therapy can go a long way in improving the mental health of a patient, it can also help in more physical ways. For one thing, music therapy lowers a patient’s perception of their pain so that what might normally be extremely painful becomes a much more tolerable experience. For patients suffering with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, music therapy has been known to lower incidences of nausea and anxiety, sometimes significantly lowering the fatigue, anxiety, and pain of those in hospice care.

Talking to a music therapist

I caught up with Alyssa Regan, who is in her second year in the master’s equivalency program for music therapy at Immaculata University. She’s also near the end of her full-time internship at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

How have you personally seen music therapy work on someone?

I was planning on having a session with one of my patients that I had been seeing regularly since the beginning of my internship. This patient was only 16 months old and suffered from many medical complications. When I arrived at his room, I noticed an entire medical team standing around his bed; his monitor was beeping, his heart rate and respiratory rate were so erratic that numbers weren’t even showing. My patient’s face was red and he seemed to be writhing in discomfort. With approval from the medical team, I came in and began to quietly play guitar. Around the same time, the patient was given some medication. As I began to sing, my patient’s face calmed. I aimed to match the tempo of my music with his breathing and then gradually slow it down. His HR and RR appeared on the monitors and slowly decreased. After 20 minutes or so, his vitals were stable and he was asleep. After the session, one of the nurses said, “Well, either you’re a miracle worker or those drugs kicked in extremely fast!” I’m sure the medicine had a little to do with it, but it was also the music.

Since you started studying music therapy, have you seen it grow?

Yes. I think that more of the general population is beginning to recognize it as a credible field, especially as it seems to be gaining more publicity recently (e.g. the Gabby Giffords documentary and the recent segment on the news about music therapy with premature infants). I hope it continues to grow!

Is music therapy becoming more recognized in hospitals, nursing homes, etc.? 

I think it is becoming more recognized in general, which hopefully means that there will be more jobs available. The most growth seems to be happening in hospice care.

How do you see music therapy expanding over the next ten years?

Ideally, I’d like music therapy to be seen as important as physical therapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy. Will that happen over the next ten years? Probably not. However, I would not be too surprised if every hospice care organization, children’s hospital, and major medical and psychiatric institution in the United States had at least one music therapist on staff in ten years.

Scott Huntington is a percussionist specializing in marimba. He’s also a writer, reporter and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and son and does Internet marketing for WebpageFX in Harrisburg. Scott strives to play music whenever and wherever possible. Follow him on Twitter at @SMHuntington.

Oxford Music Online is the gateway offering users the ability to access and cross-search multiple music reference resources in one location. With Grove Music Online as its cornerstone, Oxford Music Online also contains The Oxford Companion to Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

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The post The rise of music therapy appeared first on OUPblog.

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42180. small strokes of atmospheric kindness

Between client calls and contractor visits, I found this shock of sun.

Some of us badly need rain. Some of us badly need spring. All of us are wondering about the weather.

My plan: to be grateful for small strokes of atmospheric kindness. To capture them, on film.

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42181. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Katherine Roberts, Author of the Echorium Trilogy


Would you eat a Half Creature? 
Guest post by Katherine Roberts

If you’re not a strict vegetarian, then you’re probably fine with eating animal flesh and maybe a bit of fish. But how far would you take that? Would you eat a horse? Would you eat your dog? Would you eat a mermaid?

Although I’m not vegetarian myself, I think I would find that last one difficult (I’d find the other two difficult, too – though if I were starving and someone served up the meat in a shrink-wrapped package, maybe I could do it!) On the other hand, mermaids don’t exist so that’s okay.

But I write fantasy! And one of the tricks of writing a realistic imaginary world is to ask this kind of question. So let’s suppose for a moment that mermaids do exist…

In my Echorium trilogy, you’ll meet several types of half creature: merlee (half fish, half human – our mermaids and also mermen), centaurs (half pony, half human),
quetzal (half bird, half human) and naga (half water snake, half human). Most people respect the Half Creature Treaty that forbids exploitation of half creatures. But at the start of the first book Song Quest, unscrupulous hunters are netting the merlee for their eggs and gutting the females to extract this delicacy before casting their bodies back into the sea. Think caviar, mermaid-style.

My imaginary world is policed by human Singers, who live in the Echorium (a bluestone castle on the Isle of Echoes) and use Songs of Power in the place of weapons. Alerted by the merlee’s cries for help, they set out to investigate taking with them two young novices – Rialle, who can communicate with half creatures, and Kherron who cannot. They follow the hunters’ trail high into the mountains of the Karch, where they discover the small green merlee eggs are destined for the young Karchlord Javelly, who is chronically sick… the eggs are supposed to cure him. In the Karch, the Singers discover another violation of the Treaty – quetzal are being kept in cages, waiting to be plucked and boiled for the lord’s table. This looks like a direct violation of the Treaty by the people of the Karch. But things are not quite as they seem. When Lord Javelly’s priests are discovered injecting the merlee eggs before delivering them to their young lord, the Singers must use their Songs of Power not only to protect the half creatures but also to save the life of the young Karchlord.

The half creatures in my Echorium books are based on creatures from our own myths. I gave them limited intelligence along with their animal instincts, and was fascinated by the question of whether they should be treated as low-intelligence humans or highly-intelligent animals. If human, then obviously eating them would be considered cannibalism and wrong. If animal, then maybe it’s more acceptable… provided you’re not vegetarian, of course! The equivalent squirm-factor in our world might be eating a chimpanzee (that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when our hero and heroine are served with a dessert of frozen monkey brains inside the original monkey heads has always freaked me out!)

In the end, I decided the half creatures in my fantasy world should be protected species and are not to be eaten under any circumstance. Do you agree?


The Echorium trilogy was first published by Chicken House/Scholastic. The first title Song Quest won the Branford Boase Award for best debut novel for young readers in 2000, and all three books are now re-available:

Song Quest - paperback (Catnip Publishing, UK), ebook coming soon.

Crystal Mask - Kindle ebook (special offer this weekend 99c / 99p)

Dark Quetzal - Kindle ebook (special offer this weekend 99c / 99p)

Katherine Roberts writes fantasy and legend for young readers. Her latest series is the Pendragon Legacy about King Arthur’s daughter (which also contains a mermaid, although they don’t eat her!)

Meet Katherine here: 

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Katherine! 

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42182. Review: Secret Kingdom Books 1 & 2 by Rosie Banks (ARCs)

Enchanted Palace.
by Rosie Banks.
2014 Scholastic.
ISBN: 9780545535533
Secret Kingdom is a brand-new series of paperback chapter books from Scholastic, which was originally published in the UK. The series focuses on the adventures of three girls - Ellie, Jasmine, and Summer - who stumble upon a mysterious old box with the power to transport them to the magical kingdom ruled by King Merry. The kingdom is in trouble, as the king’s sister, Queen Malice, is intent on making everyone as miserable as she is by hiding six thunderbolts around the kingdom. With the help of a pixie named Trixi, the three girls must work together to track down the thunderbolts and destroy them before they can make any trouble. In the first book, Enchanted Palace,the girls visit the king’s palace, where they help to save his birthday party from being ruined by the first thunderbolt. In the second book, Unicorn Valley, they help a group of unicorns put on the Golden Games, which are nearly canceled due to the second thunderbolt.

My blogs have merged, and this is my last post at Secrets & Sharing Soda. Please click here to read the rest of this review at Story Time Secrets.

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42183. Team KEEPER Continued!

So wow. You guys have already maxed out the 200 Comment Limit on the new Team KEEPER page that I just built you--which is AWESOME, btw (clearly the KEEPER fandom is growing).

But it also leaves me with the *tiny* problem of not having anywhere for you guys to comment/interact with each other.

I've looked into lots of different things, but so far I haven't been able to find anything that lets you comment anonymously (since I know some of you have parents that don't want you creating accounts or using your name) and lets the comments be "threaded" (meaning you can reply to each other in a nice, organized, easy-to-follow way)

So for now, the only solution I can come up with is to move the conversation to another new place. Like oh, hey, RIGHT HERE.

You might want to bookmark this post so you can find it again, since this isn't a "page" like the others (though I have also added a link to this post on the Team KEEPER page, in case you can't find it). And if you fill all the comments on this page, I'll just create another.


As you were and carry on. Feel free to continue your Team debates (side note: I love that you guys are calling for me to make teams for characters who don't have them yet). It's also awesome that you guys have started discussing theories about things--though please, please, PLEASE make sure you keep that discussion spoiler-free, so we don't ruin the fun for anyone who hasn't read.

Also, if you need a refresher on who the teams are:

Ever feel like you don't belong? Then you look no further--you belong with Team Sophie! You may not always have the answers, but you're brave and smart, and if you trust yourself, you can handle anything. And as for who holds your heart? Only time will tell how you decide . . .

Ever feel like the underdog? Then welcome to Team Dex! You may have people constantly underestimating you, but you'll prove them all wrong someday. And while you may be the ultimate BFF, you're hoping to break out of the "friend zone" eventually. (you might have pretty great dimples, too . . . )

Ever caused a mess of trouble--and loved every second of it? Then you definitely belong with Team Keefe!  Jokes and pranks are the highlight of your week--but that doesn't mean you can't be serious when you need to be. In fact, you care very deeply about . . . well, maybe you're not ready to admit *who* yet. But you're having fun driving the girls crazy in the meantime!

Ever feel pressure to be who everyone expects you to be? Then Team Fitz is the place for you ! You have the looks, the talent, and the family everybody envies--but that doesn't mean you do everything perfectly. And sometimes you can be a little oblivious when it comes to other people's feelings. But you'll hopefully figure it all out--eventually. . . (and yes, we're all dying to see your picture!!!!) 

Ever feel like no one understands you? Then find lots of people you can relate to on Team Iggy! You may be small and good at making a mess of things--but you always know when someone needs you. And you're happy to provide them with a cuddle, a purr, or a nose-full of toxic breath--whatever they need. And hey, you can rock every crazy fur color there is!

Ever feel like you're all alone? Then you'll find lots of friends with Team Silveny--plus more sparkles than anyone could ever need! You're special and one-of-a-kind and extremely loyal and caring. And no one can deny you have great taste in friends--even if they give you the craziest nicknames.

Okay, and ............ GO!

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42184. It's live!! Cover Reveal: Hellhole by Gina Damico + Giveaway (US only)


Welcome to the second cover reveal of the week, YABCers!

Today we're super excited to reveal the cover for HELLHOLE by Gina Damico releasing January 6, 2015 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Gina:


Hello, YABC! I'm wickedly thrilled to show you the cover of my upcoming novel, Hellhole. The designers at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have once again done a magnificent job of capturing exactly what this book is about--a hole that opens up in the ground, and yep, out pops a devil. But what I love even more is how it also conveys the dark sense of humor that pervades the story, and also highlights the mischievous attitude of Burg, the devil in question. As a big fan of minimalism in covers, I really dig how perfectly the colors pop against the black background--and of course, I'm psyched about the font as well. Because I am the type of person who gets psyched about fonts.

~ Gina Damico (HELLHOLE, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)



Ready to see?

Scroll, YABCers! Scroll!


































Here it is!


*** If you choose to share this image elsewhere, please include a courtesy link back to this page so others can enter Gina's giveaway. Thank you! ***



by Gina Damico
Release date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-13: 9780544307100


About the Book

Meet the houseguest from hell!
Geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore only has one dirty habit: digging for fossils. One day, to his horror, his shovel strikes not upon a dinosaur bone, but a pit to hell—and out of it comes a devil. Specifically, the kind of devil who eats a lot of junk food, watches a lot of reality television, plays a lot of video games, and refuses to leave Max’s basement. But evil is still evil, no matter what form it takes. And Max has to find a way to comply with the demands of the big red menace, lest he lay waste to everyone and everything Max cares about.
With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max goes in search of a new abode for his unwanted guest. Finding a place where he can reside in luciferian luxury isn’t easy, but Max has strong motivation: his mother, whose terminal illness the devil promises to cure if Max gives him what he wants. Lore has her doubts about making a deal with the devil, but Max will stop at nothing to save his mom. And pretty soon, he’s doing things the good kid he once was would never dream of doing. Clearly, hanging around with a devil is a bad influence. But how can Max get rid of the guy without incurring the wrath of hell?

b2ap3_thumbnail_ginadamico.jpgAbout the Author

Gina Damico is the author of Croak, Scorch, and Rogue, the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives outside Boston with her husband, two cats, and one dog, and while she has never visited hell in person, she has spent countless waking hours at the Albany Regional Bus Terminal, which is pretty darn close. 

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Web | Pre-order Amazon | YouTube



Giveaway Details

One winner will receive an ARC of Hellhole (when available) + 3 signed bookmarks + 3 magnets

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

What do you think about the cover and synopsis?


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42185. Delia Sherman's THE FREEDOM MAZE—Guest Post and Giveaway!

Guest post by Delia Sherman on THE FREEDOM MAZE (which I adored and highly recommend)...

      When I began writing The Freedom Maze, back in 1987, I didn’t intend to write a book about race. I intended to write a book about time travel and a shy, bookish girl who learned that adventures are very different to read about than to live. I set it in Louisiana because I like Louisiana and had spent a certain amount of time down there when I was a child, visiting my mother’s family. I sent my heroine back to 1860 because I’m interested in societies on the edge of war, and not so much in war itself.
      Of course, that meant that I had to deal with slavery, which is an even bigger can of worms than the Civil War, but writing a novel is like that sometimes. One decision about setting or plot can lead you into places you never thought you’d go. Political places. Dangerous places. Places that make you face things that are hard to tackle. Like the history of race in America, and how the ghost of slavery still haunts our laws and customs and daily lives. Like how otherwise kind and thoughtful men and women can believe that certain classes and kinds of human beings are not as sensitive, intelligent, hardworking, worthy, human as they are themselves. Like what it must have been like to live every day knowing that you were property, barred by law from resting when you were tired, going where you wanted to go, complaining when you were unfairly treated—in some cases, from living with your own family.
      Ideally, I would have liked to talk to people who had experienced both sides of this issue, but there is no one left alive who remembers at first hand what it was like to be a slave (or a slave-owner) in the old South. There are, however, plenty of records and lists and letters and memoirs and reminiscences written by both slave-holders and slaves, many of them published in easily-accessible books, many more lurking in libraries. I visited a handful of these, and at Loyola University in New Orleans, in a yellow manila file folder stuffed with advertisements for runaway slaves, I found a notice. The advertistment was for a young slave woman. “Blond and blue-eyed,” the descrription read. “Could pass as white.”
      Could pass as white.
      Because, of course, she was, to look at, anyway. Because by the middle of the 19th century, slavery had as much to do with money and class and fear of difference as it did with skin color.
      I have long believed that racism, prejudice and oppression have their roots in class, in history, and most poisonously, in fear of difference. What I tried to do in The Freedom Maze was to demystify that difference, to make the experiences of one group emotionally accessible to everybody, to show what happens when human beings are focused on “us” and “them” rather than on everybody—not to erase differences, but to look beneath them to our common humanity.
      Oh, and to tell a good and exciting story about characters I love.
Headshot by Augusten Burroughs.

Delia Sherman was born in Japan and raised in New York City but spent vacations with relatives in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Her work has appeared most recently in the young adult anthologies The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People; Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories; and Teeth: Vampire Tales. Her novels for younger readers include Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. She lives in New York City. Visit her website to learn more.

Candlewick is kindly giving away one free copy of THE FREEDOM MAZE to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below.
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Sophie begins as a spoiled, unfocused 13-year-old and ends as a confident, self-possessed and aware 14-year-old. And the events that lead to her growth are nothing short of amazing. She goes back in time on her family's plantation and is mistaken for a slave. I can't imagine the research that went into this book to transport me, as the reader, to the time and place in a more palpable way than I've ever experienced. It seems with all the slave movies and books I'd have had a stronger sense. But this gave me the 'what it's like to wake up as a slave' experience. What was breakfast? What did you do when you had your period? And of course, what was it like to be somebody else's property. When Sophie returns to her time, I think I was as desperately eager to know what had happened to her new friends as she was. Deeply rewarding and rich, I highly recommend this book to younger readers as well as adults.

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42186. My Last Day at My Desk

I’m hoping this will be my last day.

Not with this company, (though there are days … moments … seconds that that doesn’t cross my mind), but at my desk.

Since I sit at the first desk that patients come to as they’re exiting the clinic area, I naturally help the most patients. On a four doctor day, it’s not unusual for me to help 30 patients ON TOP of the 15 voicemails I receive and the 15 flags I receive from the doctors’ nurses that I’m responsible for taking care of as well.

I’m currently responsible for 3 doctors- it’s overwhelming. I can’t maintain this pace indefinitely and I’ve expressed my … frustrations to my management.

It wasn’t until recently that I felt like a light bulb went off in their heads and they finally understood what I’ve been telling them for the past month.

So. We had yet another meeting yesterday (*sigh*) and today should, SHOULD, be the last day I’m at this desk. And we have three doctors today. So I will still end the day more behind than when I started it.

But. I will be sitting in the peach pit tomorrow (i.e. Triage area) answering calls and training the other MA’s to do the job that me and the other schedulers have been doing, and they will train me, and the other schedulers, MA duties.

Then next week, I will either be with a doctor or in the peach pit.

I will be kissing my desk, and my old job, goodbye.

At least, that’s the plan.

Let’s hope we all stick to the plan.

Filed under: Work Stuff

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42187. ukulele player

It's a bird... it's a plane... no, it's a ukulele playing dude in a bird suit. Go figure.

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42188. Uncovering You Blog Tour

Uncovering You

Title: Uncovering You
Author: Scarlett Edwards
Genre: Dark Romance
Release Date: March 17th, 2014
Series (Y/N) – Yes, first book in series. Second will be out April 20th, 2014
Tour Host: Lady Amber’s Tours

Book Description:
When I wake up in a dark, unfamiliar room, I have no idea what’s waiting for me in the shadows. My imagination conjures up demons of the worst kind.

Reality is much worse:

A collar with no leash. A prison with no walls. And a life stripped of meaning.

I am presented with a vile contract and asked to sign. It outlines the terms of my servitude. The only information I have about my captor are the two small letters inked at the bottom:


Armed with only my memories, I must do everything I can to avoid becoming ensnared in his twisted mind games. But in the end, it all comes down to one choice:

Resist and die.

Or submit, and sign my life away
GoodReads Link:


Author Bio:
I live near beautiful Seattle, Washington.  I grew up reading all types of fantasy books before discovering the wonderful world of romances in high school.  Now, I spend most of my time writing about sexy men and the women who love them.







Oh God. It’s him. There’s no mistaking that rich, masculine treble.

What’s he doing down here?

“M-Mr. Stonehart,” I stutter, turning. I curse my inability to hide my surprise. He totally caught me off-guard. I have to look up to meet his eyes. Then up some more.

The face that I find is so striking it should belong to a Greek god.

He’s younger than I expected. Late thirties, maybe early forties.

That means he started his company when he was younger than me!

Dark scruff lines his angular cheeks. His jet-black hair is styled in long, natural waves. My fingers itch to run through it.

Totally inappropriate.

He has a prominent nose that might be too big on a less imposing man, but on him, it’s perfect.

In short, he’s a package of the purest masculinity I’ve ever seen.

And then there are his eyes. Oh my God. His eyes. They pierce into me like honing missiles. They are the deepest black I have ever seen. They would be frightening if they weren’t so beautiful. When the light reflects a certain way, you catch a glimpse of the purple underneath.

They are like midnight sapphires. His eyes reveal a cunning intellect. Those eyes do not miss a thing.

Add all that to his towering height, his wide shoulders, his confident-yet-at-ease posture… and Stonehart cuts an intimidating figure.

My gaze darts to his left hand before I can stop it. No ring. He’s unmarried.

He looks down at me, expectantly. His eyes narrow ever so slightly, and I feel like I’m being dissected, measured up, and tucked away in some small corner of his brain. I imagine this is what a gemstone feels like under the magnifying class of the most critical appraiser.

Stonehart clears his throat. I come to with a start, realizing I haven’t said anything in ages. I open my mouth, but the capacity for speech seems like a foreign concept to my brain. “I—”

Somebody bumps into me from behind. I stagger forward. I’m not used to these shoes, so my heel steps the wrong way. My ankle twists under me, and I start to fall.

I don’t fall far. The hand still on my elbow tightens, and Stonehart pulls me into him.

I plaster myself onto the solid steel wall the man has for a body. I catch a scent of his cologne. It’s a deep, musky smell with a hint of charred spruce that is all male. It scrambles my thoughts even more.

“Sorry!” a rushed voice calls out. From the corner of my eye, I see the postman giving a hurried, apologetic wave.

Although the sequence lasts less than a second, it feels like an eternity. Pressed up against him like that, I don’t want to move. I know that I couldn’t have made a worse first impression.

Stonehart eases me off him with a firm yet gentle grip. Our eyes meet. I flush the most vibrant red. His fingers graze my forehead as he brushes a lock of hair out of my face.

Any tenderness I may have imagined vanishes when Stonehart takes out his cell. He long dials a key and growls an order. “Steven. See the delivery boy leaving right now? Have his building pass revoked.”

I gape. Stonehart keeps speaking. “Wait. I thought of one better. Bar his company from accessing the building.” There’s a pause. “For how long? Indefinitely. FedEx can talk to me when they have an improved employee selection program in place.”

The phone call gives me just enough time to compose myself. My heart’s still beating out of my chest. But nobody has to know that.

I speak without thinking. “You’re going to restrict the entire company from serving this building because of that?”

Stonehart humors me with an answer. “A company’s employees are its most important asset. Their behavior reflects the organization as a whole. If FedEx decided that clown is good enough for them, it tells me they’re sloppy. I do not do business with sloppy organizations.”

“What about the other tenants in the building?” I ask. “Won’t that piss them off?”

When I hear myself and realize how improper my question is, my cheeks flame red again.

Stonehart’s eyes darken, as if he cannot believe I asked that question. I open my mouth to apologize for my imprudence, hating the way my professional skills have evaporated into thin air. I’m cut off by a short, barked laugh.

“Miss Ryder.” He sounds amused. “I believe that is the most direct and honest question anybody has dared ask me in weeks.” He takes my elbow again and leads me to the elevators. I have to take two quick steps to match one of his long strides.

“Yes,” he continues. “They will be ‘pissed off.’ But the perk of owning a building—” he hits the elevator call button, “—is that you get to make executive decisions.” He gives me an unreadable glance as the doors open. “That is, at the risk of being questioned by inexperienced interns.”

If that isn’t a loaded remark, I don’t know what is. I flush scarlet red for the third time since I’ve met him. I’ve never had a man throw me so off balance.

The elevator is packed, for which I’m infinitely thankful. The trip up will give me some time to properlycompose myself.

Gratitude turns to panic when the crowd files out, meek as mice, when Stonehart steps in. None of the people waiting in the lobby follow us.

The doors close. I’m alone in here with him. My heart’s beating as fast as a hummingbird’s wings.

He catches me staring. “Impressed?” he asks.

“They know you,” I manage.

His dark eyes flash with amusement. “Astute.”

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42189. Meet Thomas Jefferson!

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42190. I Know That Face!

Have you ever seen someone completely out of context, recognized their face, but it took some time to come up with the venue where you typically interact with them?

Maybe you know a policeman who you typically see in uniform. Then you run into him at your son’s baseball game. The face looks so familiar. “How do I know this person?” you ask yourself until it finally clicks.

Or possibly you are at your favorite Portuguese restaurant and a familiar-looking woman you positively should know is seated three tables away, only you can’t recall her name. Maybe she is an old girlfriend (you’ve had so many), maybe you worked together, or went to the same high school. Also escaping you is whether you knew her well enough that you are compelled to say hello. Through the appetizer, salad, and main course you glance so many times she is wondering if she should call the police or if you are going to buy her dinner. Finally during desert, it comes to you that she’s the teller at the bank, leaving you nothing to worry about except her surly husband whose eyes are riveted on you.


All of that leads me to something that happened recently. For many years, I was an early morning gymrat.  I love going to the gym, but hate much of the meat-market style interaction that goes on there. I hate waiting for the lat press while Joey finishes texting. I loathe the flirting, that guy doing curls in the mirror hoping someone is watching, the girl who is wearing less fabric than my sock, and the people who sweat like they are being interrogated but don’t feel the need to wipe down a seat. So I started going to the gym at 5 am. At 5 am, the gym is full of people who are serious about working out. I made many friends over the years and joined a group of people who ran a few days a week as well.

One evening while at the store with my lovely wife, I saw a lady I knew I should know. While her husband didn’t look the least bit familiar, her face did. Across several aisles, I stared her down. I wracked my brain to come up with my association with this woman, but could not. Finally our paths met, she smiled and said, “Hello Mark.” Upon hearing her voice, I knew immediately she was part of the running group from the gym.

I replied just like anyone would in the situation, “Hello Patty, I was having trouble placing you for a minute. I didn’t recognize you with clothes on.”

Those words hung there for a second while everyone besides me tried to make sense of them. Me? Oh, I didn’t really know what I’d said, I was just relieved to have the mystery solved. I stood there with a contented smile on my face until I noticed the shock on their faces. I did a mental recount of my statement and went directly to panic mode.

I’ll have that back, please!

Nope, no taking it back. I could only explain that I meant I was used to seeing her in very appropriate work-out clothes.

Yes, I’m still married and no, her husband and I did not tussle! (I could have taken him, though – with all of my bicep curls into the mirror.)

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42191. Watch for It: Formerly Shark Girl

Here's a verse novel to watch for, rgz. You know I'm partial to the verse novel. Kudos to publishers who continue to give them voice! So, remember Shark Girl? You can read Kelly Bingham's full issue for rgz here. Get ready to see what happened afterwards: Formerly Shark Girl!

Kelly picks up Jane's story a year after the shark attack. She's waffling between nursing and art school. She's dealing with unexpected pain, a possible surgery, fan mail, and a bucket list for her senior year. The pages turn quickly as you journey with Jane through her choices, and she reaches satisfying conclusions.

Way to go rgz, for nudging Kelly to tell the rest of the story. Her dedication reads: "This book is for all the readers who asked for more of Jane's story. Without you, this book would not have been written." Brava, rgz!

Formerly Shark Girl
by Kelly Bingham
Candlewick Press, 2013

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

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42192. “New,” previously unpublished Bill Finger photo 4 of 6

The title of my post way back on 7/21/08, five months after I launched this blog, was “‘New’ Bill Finger photo 1 of 9.”

But there were no subsequent posts unveiling photos 2-9.

Until now.

(Less three I published in Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, plus one I have found since.)

Bill (right) with sister-in-law Irene Flam, 
Ellis Epstein (Bill’s wife Portia’s grandfather), 
and James Epstein (Bill’s father-in-law), 1950s

Tune in for the next two days to see two more glimpses of Bill that have never been published.

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42193. Latest News

vfaz cover

View from a Zoo was reviewed by the San Francisco Book Review on February 19th!

Artie’s children’s book Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet is being published as a 5 part series beginning this month, through June in Jabberblabber Magazine. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Jabberblabber is a print and online Earth Friendly magazine for kids available at all Walgreens in the Tri State area, as well as various other locations throughout the Mid-South. To read part 1/5 in the February issue, please click on the illustrated below. The story is on page 4.

LG Cover

The Southern Newspapers Publishers Association is publishing and offering several of Artie’s children’s stories to newspapers across the United States. The latest is his story titled Larkin Wyley’s Paleontology Adventure.  To read the stories, please click on the illustration below.

Larkin Wyley

Use of any of the content on this website without permission is prohibited by federal law 


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42194. The Plantation Church: a Q&A with Noel Erskine

In honor of Black History Month, we sat down with Noel Erskine to learn more about the Plantation Church—the religions that formed on plantations during slavery—and its roots in the Caribbean.

How was the Plantation Church formed?

The Plantation Church was formed through the traffic across the Black Atlantic of Africa’s children, packed like sardines, and treated as human cargo, to work on plantations in the Americas. The plantation was at first a site of human bondage, and provided the context for chattel slavery, where the entire family was brutalized as they realized that there was a connection between higher sugar prices and cruel treatment of slaves. In plantation society the political power of the African chief was transferred to the white master, except in the context of the plantation, there were no safeguards for women and children. The entire family was dehumanized. Plantation etiquette required submission to the wishes of the master and failure to comply would often elicit a violent response. The will of the master applied to every aspect of plantation life. The master had the right to whip, sell, or trade members of the family whenever or for whatever reason. Africans found it difficult at first to mount a credible form of resistance against the violence perpetrated against them on plantations.

Picture of slaves being transported from Africa

Slaves being transported in Africa, 19th century engraving. From Lehrbuch der Weltgeschichte oder Die Geschichte der Menschheit by William Rednbacher, 1890. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Why was the Plantation Church formed?

It is often forgotten that Africans who were captured and brought against their will to work on plantations in the New World left institutions of their clan and tribe behind. The creation of the Plantation Church was an attempt to hold body and soul together in an alien environment. In the Plantation Church, which was at first an African Church, Africans “stolen from the homeland” had to compensate for the loss of language, culture, and the constant change of environment as they were often sold and separated from members of their families. The cruelty meted out to Africans who traversed the Black Atlantic on route to the Caribbean and North American colonies for work in plantation society is beyond compare in the annals of the history of slavery. The Indians and Spaniards had the support and comfort of their families, their kinsfolk, their leaders, and their places of worship in their sufferings. Africans the most uprooted of all, were herded together like animals in a pen, always in a state of impotent rage, always filled with a longing for flight, freedom, change, and always having to adopt a defensive attitude of submission, pretense, and acculturation to the new world.

What characterized the Plantation Church?

Enslaved Africans on plantations “a long ways from home”, remembered home, and the memory of Africa became a controlling metaphor and organizing principle as they countered the hegemonic conditions imposed on them by their masters. There was a tension between their existence on plantations here in the New World and there in Africa, their home of origin. Here in plantation society they longed for there, their home, Africa – the forests, the ancestors, family, Gods and culture. They remembered the forests and they relived their experience of forests through the practice of religious rituals in the brush arbors, often down by the riverside. The memory of ancestors and a sense that their spirits accompanied them served as sites of a new consciousness on the plantations in which the struggle for survival and liberation took precedence. This awakening convinced them that they would survive through running away to the forests or through suicides that would reunite them with families and the Africa they remembered. It was primarily through religious rituals and the carving out of Black sacred spaces that enslaved persons were able to affirm self and create a world over against plantation society which was created for their families by the master. With the creation of the Plantation Church, the African priest and medicine man/woman were able to prevent the enslaved condition from dominating their consciousness and rob the children of Africa the freedom to dream a new world. It was the community’s memory of Africa that provided hope for dreaming the emergence of new worlds whether in Haiti, South Carolina, or Cuba.

Why is the Caribbean so important to the Plantation Church?

There were more than eleven million enslaved persons who were transported across the Black Atlantic and forced to work on plantations in the New World. Of this number, about 450, 000 arrived in the United States and all the rest went south of the border to the Caribbean nations and South America. More than twice the number of Africans who landed in the United States arrived in each of the islands of Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba.  Additionally, it must be noted that slavery began in the Caribbean as early as 1502, well over a hundred years before the first twenty Africans landed in James Town Virginia in 1619. The historical priority and the numerical advantage point to the Black religious experience being born in the Caribbean and not the United States of America.  W.E.B. Du Bois puts this in perspective, “American Negroes, to a much larger extent than they realize, are not only blood relatives to the West Indians but under deep obligations to them for many things. For instance, without the Haitian Revolt, there would have been no emancipation in America as early as 1863. I, myself, am of West Indian descent and am proud of the fact.”

Noel Leo Erskine is Professor of Theology and Ethics at Candler School of Theology and the Laney Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Emory University. He has been a visiting Professor in ten schools in six countries. His books include Plantation Church: How African American Religion Was Born in Caribbean Slavery, King Among the Thologians, and From Garvey to Marley.

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42195. I Know That Face!

Have you ever seen someone completely out of context, recognized their face, but it took some time to come up with the venue where you typically interact with them?

Maybe you know a policeman who you typically see in uniform. Then you run into him at your son’s baseball game. The face looks so familiar. “How do I know this person?” you ask yourself until it finally clicks.

Or possibly you are at your favorite Portuguese restaurant and a familiar-looking woman you positively should know is seated three tables away, only you can’t recall her name. Maybe she is an old girlfriend (you’ve had so many), maybe you worked together, or went to the same high school. Also escaping you is whether you knew her well enough that you are compelled to say hello. Through the appetizer, salad, and main course you glance so many times she is wondering if she should call the police or if you are going to buy her dinner. Finally during desert, it comes to you that she’s the teller at the bank, leaving you nothing to worry about except her surly husband whose eyes are riveted on you.


All of that leads me to something that happened recently. For many years, I was an early morning gymrat.  I love going to the gym, but hate much of the meat-market style interaction that goes on there. I hate waiting for the lat press while Joey finishes texting. I loathe the flirting, that guy doing curls in the mirror hoping someone is watching, the girl who is wearing less fabric than my sock, and the people who sweat like they are being interrogated but don’t feel the need to wipe down a seat. So I started going to the gym at 5 am. At 5 am, the gym is full of people who are serious about working out. I made many friends over the years and joined a group of people who ran a few days a week as well.

One evening while at the store with my lovely wife, I saw a lady I knew I should know. While her husband didn’t look the least bit familiar, her face did. Across several aisles, I stared her down. I wracked my brain to come up with my association with this woman, but could not. Finally our paths met, she smiled when and said, “Hello Mark.” Upon hearing her voice, I knew immediately she was part of the running group from the gym.

I replied just like anyone would in the situation, “Hello Patty, I was having trouble placing you for a minute. I didn’t recognize you with clothes on.”

Those words hung there for a second while everyone besides me tried to make sense of them. Me? Oh, I didn’t really know what I’d said, I was just relieved to have the mystery solved. I stood there with a contented smile on my face until I noticed the shock on their faces. I did a mental recount of my statement and went directly to panic mode.

I’ll have that back, please!

Nope, no taking it back. I could only explain that I meant I was used to seeing her in very appropriate work-out clothes.

Yes, I’m still married and no, her husband and I did not tussle! (I could have taken him, though – with all of my bicep curls into the mirror.)

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42196. Welcome, Kataleya!

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, at 3 in the afternoon, my first-ever grandchild, Kataleya Lee Wahl, entered the world via cesarean delivery (she was breech), weighing 7 lbs. 1 oz. and measuring 20 inches. As you can see, she's beautiful. Her mother, Ashley, is doing well, so much better than I was doing the day after I gave birth to the baby who grew up to be her husband and Kat's father. That baby, my older son, Christopher, was the one who cut the umbilical cord and first held his daughter in his arms.

Boy, it's hard not to cry as I type those words!

Christopher and Ashley both live with me, and that means that come this weekend, Kataleya will live with us, too, in our very small house. As I greeted Kat on Tuesday, I noticed not only how beautiful and perfect she is, but how helpless you feel when a little baby cries, how desperately you want to do anything to make her feel better, and how sometimes you . . . can't.

I'm actually writing a book right now about a girl - Nora, the girl with the ant farm - who in the second book of the series becomes a ten-year-old aunt. I've been writing about the disruptions this brings to her family, and how much Nora dislikes disruptions. I wondered if I might be exaggerating a bit. But when I held my crying granddaughter and tried to soothe her with a lullaby (a doomed plan, as all she wanted to do was to have her first go at nursing, which happened a few minutes later), I realized I hadn't exaggerated at all.

Babies are disruptive. Period.  They disturb the universe when they make their entrance into it.

Now, I'm a lot like Nora, except that while she's focused on her ant farm, I'm focused on writing books about her and her ant farm. I love order, both in terms of my living space (I'm a near-fanatic neatnik) and in terms of how I structure my time (all those to-do lists!). What am I going to do now, as I try to keep my own projects marching merrily along (my busy teaching job, FOUR books that need to be completed by the summer, lots of travel, and more)?

I'm going to have to make some changes. But you know what? Those changes are NOTHING compared to the changes little Kataleya made on the day of her birth. She, too, liked things just the way they were, safe and snug inside of Ashley, getting all her nourishment, everything needed for life itself, from her mother's support system. Ashley could have tried having Kat turned from her breech position to avoid the surgical birth, but it seemed to her too violent to do it, to make this contented little person give up the cozy position she had created for herself.

Then on Tuesday afternoon a team of doctors and nurses plucked Kat out of that cozy safe, snug spot and wrenched her into LIFE: to the blooming, buzzing confusion that is the world. On her very first day she had to figure out how to breathe, to suckle, to poop.

So how can I worry about how to make space in my cozy safe, snug life for a new grandchild to love?

It will all work out. Things always do work out, especially where is so much love and good will. I worked hard all during February to clear as much of my calendar as I could for "grandmother leave." I didn't have to clear out a huge place in my heart for her; she has that already. Plus, hearts have a way of expanding as new opportunities for love arise.

If Kataleya can change, I can change. She's already changing every day.

And so am I.

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42197. Google’s New and Innovative Technologies

IT Forum Gold Coast (ITFGC) is the best place to network with industry peers, potential clients and employers.  The Federal, State and local Governments give well-deserved recognition to ITFGC for being an active voice of the IT industry on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Being a member gives you an unprecedented opportunity to stay informed […]

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42198. Question: When to reveal you're popular

When querying an agent, is it wise to inform them of other agents who have requested pages? I am thinking of including something along the lines of "Currently, three agents are reading the full manuscript, and several others have requested partials."

I don't want to come across as arrogant, pushy or assuming. But I do think they should know where I'm at in the query process. Your thoughts?

At the query stage, no.
If an agent requests more, yes.

If you're querying me, and you tell me agents are already reading fulls/partials/whatevers, my inclination is to say "hey, wait, how far down your list am I?" If I request a full and you tell me others are reading I'm more likely to assume I'm slow, or this is a hot project that lots of people are asking to see.

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42199. Flip book animation in a paperback

Some of you know that my career began in the animation business, and that I have dabbled in animation alongside painting and writing.

When I was doing science fiction paperback covers, I convinced my art director, Gene Mydlowski, to let me animate a flip book movie in the corners of the pages of the Alan Dean Foster novel "Quozl." I called the technique "Flip-a-Mation," and it was perfect for this story, about a race of rabbit-like aliens who arrive on earth, looking a bit like Warner Brothers cartoon characters.

I recently rediscovered the file folder with the 100 original drawings that I did for the Flip-a-mation sequence. Using my digital camera and free software called "Time Lapse Assembler" I was able to reshoot the sequence and add some sound effects.
(Video Link)

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42200. Press Release Fun: 2014 Children’s Book Week Poster Revealed!



CBC Press Release Fun: 2014 Childrens Book Week Poster Revealed!


New York, NY — February 27, 2014 – The Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader have unveiled Robin Preiss Glasser’s official 2014 Children’s Book Week poster at bookweekonline.com, commemorating the 95th annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. 175,000 copies will be distributed nationwide, and may be requested online at no cost beyond shipping. 2014 will be the largest celebration of Children’s Book Week yet, with official events –which give kids the opportunity to connect with their favorite authors and illustrators in person – in all 50 states for the first time in the initiative’s history.

Robin Preiss Glasser is the 2013 Children’s Choice Illustrator of the Year Award-winner for Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet, part of the Fancy Nancy series which has more than 50 titles and has been on the New York Times Bestsellers list for more than 350 weeks. Her poster shows a group of children of all ages reading together on a chair quilted with the covers of classic children’s books including Eloise, Goodnight Moon, The Twits, The Purple Crayon, Call of the Wild, Charlotte’s Web, and other favorites.

“To be a part of Children’s Book Week, with its recognition of the joy of storytelling and importance of reading, is truly an honor,” says Robin Preiss Glasser. “In creating the poster for this year’s celebration, I follow in the footsteps of so many great children’s book illustrators, many of whose work enchanted me as a child. It is thrilling to have the opportunity to share my art with the libraries, schools, and book stores that are part of the Children’s Book Council’s and Every Child a Reader’s outreach, as together we share our love of storybooks with young audiences.”

Each year since Children’s Book Week’s inception in 1919, a distinguished children’s book illustrator has been called upon to create an official Children’s Book Week poster to be distributed nationwide. Over the literacy initiative’s 95 storied years, posters have been created by children’s literature icons including Brian Selznick, Ian Falconer, Jon J Muth, Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats, Richard Scarry, Ellen Raskin, Laurent deBrunhoff, Tomie dePaola, Rosemary Wells, Garth Williams, Marc Brown, and Jerry Pinkney. The Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader are honored to add Robin Preiss Glasser’s beautiful work to these historic commemorations of Children’s Book Week.

54 W. 39th St., Floor 14, New York, NY, 10018, 212.966.1990



About Robin Preiss Glasser

Robin Preiss Glasser is the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of the Fancy Nancy series, written by Jane O’Connor; America: A Patriotic Primer, A is for Abigail, and Our Fifty States by Lynne Cheney, and Tea for Ruby by Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. She lives in Southern California with her family, puppy, and tiara collection. Learn more at robinpreissglasser.com.


About the Fancy Nancy Series

With more than 24 million books sold since the series launched in December 2005 and more than 350 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, the Fancy Nancy franchise shows no sign of slowing down. Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser have appeared on The Today Show, The Martha Stewart Show and on TLC’s Mall Cops and have been featured in over 100 daily newspapers. The Fancy Nancy series has been translated into 18 languages and has over 30 licensees to date. In 2008, Fancy Nancy was named the Book Character of the Year by Global License. Fancy Nancy also received two nominations for the Toy Industry Association’s Toy of the Year Awards, two nominations for the 2009 LIMA International Licensing Excellence Awards and was named the Best Character Brand Program of the Year.


About Children’s Book Week (CBW)

Established in 1919, CBW is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Each year, official and local commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes — wherever young readers and books connect. In 2014, official events will be held in all 50 states for the first time in the initiative’s history. Learn more at bookweekonline.com.


About Every Child a Reader (ECAR)

Every Child a Reader is a 501(c)(3) literacy organization dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. Every Child a Reader creates and supports programs that: strive to make the reading and enjoyment of children’s books an essential part of America’s educational and social aims; enhance public perception of the importance of reading. ECAR’s national programs include Children’s Book Week, a nationwide celebration of books and reading, and the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country; the Children’s Choice Book Awards, the only national book awards program where the winning titles are selected by kids and teens of all ages; and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Program, the country’s “Children’s Literature Laureate”. Please visit ecarfoundation.org for more information.


About the Children’s Book Council (CBC)

The Children’s Book Council is the national nonprofit trade association for children’s book publishers, and the anchor sponsor of Children’s Book Week. The CBC offers children’s publishers the opportunity to work together on issues of importance to the industry at large, including educational programming, literacy advocacy, and collaborations with other national organizations. Membership in the CBC is open to U.S. publishers of children’s trade books, as well as in some cases to industry-affiliated companies. The CBC is proud to partner with other national organizations on co-sponsored reading lists, educational programming, and literacy initiatives. Please visit cbcbooks.org for more information.



Nicole Deming

Senior Communications Manager

The Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader



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