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6526. How to Break the Rules of Writing (& More) According to Bestselling YA author Ransom Riggs

RansomriggsLike most first conversations and bad first drafts, my (WD’s Managing Editor Adrienne Crezo) interview with Ransom Riggs begins with a discussion about the weather. And not just any weather, either, but peculiar versions of standard precipitation: dust storms, cloudbursts, thundersnow and tornadoes. Of course, Riggs is experiencing none of those phenomena as he sits in the warmth of the never-ending summer of Los Angeles. “I hate to tell you what it’s like here right now,” he says. “No, I don’t. It’s gorgeous. Just perfect.”

That kind of easygoing humor is familiar to Riggs’ fans. Readers of his New York Times bestselling young adult novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and its sequel, Hollow City, convene on Twitter (@ransomriggs) and Instagram (instagram.com/ransomriggs) to follow the seemingly unshakable optimism of a guy who really enjoys what he does. Life is uncomplicated for Riggs, as is his approach to work and writing. “[I never] set out to be a writer,” he tells me. “I took a fiction class [in college], but … I just thought, That’d be a fun thing to do for a semester, not, This is my future.”

Whatever dreams Riggs may have had about his future, he couldn’t have predicted the wild success of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a tale of time travel and magic set against the eerie backdrop of unnerving black-and-white photos of levitating girls and creepy twin clowns. Before Peculiar Children’s release in 2011, the film rights had already been snapped up by 20th Century Fox, and the movie, directed by none other than Tim Burton, is slated for release in summer 2015. Hollow City, second of the three planned Peculiar Children books, was released in January 2014. And in the midst of all this, Riggs also released Talking Pictures, a coffee-table book of found photographs, in 2012.

It’s easy to see why Riggs is enjoying the ride, but what appears to have happened overnight actually evolved over many years. It started with a love of film and photography, which led him to collecting old secondhand photographs. In 2009, Riggs was encouraged by an editor at Quirk Books to use the found pictures as the basis of a novel. At the time, Riggs was writing daily for mentalfloss.com, a popular general-interest trivia website, editing and filming short documentaries, and shooting photo essays as he traveled. He laughs to himself as he recalls his initial reaction to the conversation: “OK, Quirk. No one’s going to read that. Let me go back to blogging.”

Luckily, Riggs decided to take the editor’s advice. He compiled his found photos and wound a weird, twisting tale around them—and, in return, an eager YA audience turned the Peculiar Children series into an unlikely hit. Here, Riggs talks about his writing and social media habits, why he doesn’t follow rules, and why it’s important to take time off.

[Writing a Hero's Adventure story? Here's a simple template you can apply to your own work-in-progress.]

Your photo collection plays a huge role in the Peculiar Children books. Can you tell us how you started collecting people’s castoff snapshots?

I was at this swap meet in Pasadena [in 2009] called the Rose Bowl. I knew people sold old photographs, sort of in the corner of my mind, but I was never very interested in them … because they all looked like junk. But then I found a booth at this particular swap meet that was operated by a fellow named Leonard, who had clearly gone through many, many, many bins of photos and chosen his favorite 200 and put them in little plastic sleeves. I started looking at them and I [thought], Wow, there’s something really special here. This guy has the eye of a curator, and every [photo] is like a little piece of lost, orphaned folk art. That’s really cool! As someone who grew up loving photography in every way I could, I would have loved to have had a photo collection of my own, but I couldn’t afford to buy prints. … So I thought, Here is a way I could start my own little museum of photographs.You get to be your own curator; you’re rescuing them from the trash and saying, “I decide this is art, and I’m going to keep it.”

It occurred to me, as I collected more and more, that my taste in these photos ran in very specific directions. One was a sort of Edward Gorey-esque Victorian creepiness, and the other was photos with writing on them. I always felt like these were completely anonymous photos. … If they’ve written a little bit on the picture, especially if it’s more than just a label, if it’s a thought or a feeling or something revelatory, there’s a window into this lost world that suddenly has context where it did not before. That’s interesting.

Do you collect photos now solely for book material, or is it still a thing you just enjoy doing?

It’s still partly just a hobby. Maybe one day they’ll find their way into something I do, but maybe not. I just like owning them.

I started without anything in particular in mind to do with [the photos]; I just sort of wanted to have them. … And they’re not all creepy. There are so many I have that I love that are just sort of evocative in some simple way—the look on someone’s face, or a cool angle or interesting subject or something. I have a lot that I don’t even necessarily know that I’ll use—they don’t fit in the Peculiar Children books and they don’t fit in [Talking Pictures]. I just like them.

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In Peculiar Children and its sequel, Hollow City, your protagonist, Jacob, has some pretty interesting magical powers, but he’s also a teenager with all the typical teenager woes. You’ve called Jacob your “fantasy self.” How much of you is in Jacob, really?

You’d have to be a literary critic or a psychiatrist to pick the writer out of his work. Every fictional story goes through this sort of blender process where you take some real experience … you know what’s real or true when you put it into the blender with fiction, and then it gets all mixed up with something that didn’t really happen, but there’s still a little of you in there. I think the writer is in there no matter what you do. You can’t really remove yourself from it.

Did you set out to be a novelist or did you have other plans?

No, I wanted to make movies. When I was a kid I wanted to be a novelist … but then around the eighth grade I discovered movies and I became completely obsessed and lost myself in this dream of making movies. My friends and I had a video camera, and we would make movies all the time.

I knew I wanted to go to film school, but I also knew I wanted to learn things first. I wanted to learn about the important ideas and read the great books, so I went to Kenyon [College], but always with the understanding that I would go to film school afterward.

[I] was chasing the white pony of having a film career [and] doing whatever I could do: making short films and editing things and freelance writing. The writing thing came about completely by accident. … I never really wanted [it], or looked for it. I feel like the opposite might be true, instead, where if I’d tried really hard to be a writer, maybe someone would’ve [asked], “Do you want to be a filmmaker instead?” And I would’ve [said], “OK”—the theory of inverse effort.

I think [filmmaking] was a way for me to get into novel writing, which is not something I might have done on my own. Now that I’m doing it, I find that with each Peculiar Children book I have to work harder to include photos. The story has all this momentum of its own now.

Will that momentum carry the Peculiar Children series beyond the three books you have planned?

This story that I’m telling now will conclude in book three, but I think I’ll leave the door open to that world. I’m going to do something else next, but I will probably come back and write more [books for the series] one day.

Do you follow any specific writing rules?

I always distrust overly specific writing advice. I don’t agree with it, necessarily. When you’re thinking about what to write or how to write something, it’s too easy to make a lot of arbitrary rules for yourself. I think the difficult thing with learning how to write is not learning the style or rules, but figuring out what story you want to tell.

I spent a lot of time telling the wrong stories, especially when … I was in college or when I was a kid trying to imitate C.S. Lewis or Stephen King. I never understood why my writing didn’t take off. I would think, Well, the sentences are correct, and the characters are talking and everything looks right, and it seems like a story. I did exactly what [they] told me to do, but there’s no blood in it and I don’t know why. It’s something you have to learn, how to tell the right stories for you, and it’s this completely ineffable thing.

[Here's a crash course of tips for writers looking to break into copywriting.]

What about schedules? Do you wake up some days and think, I’m not going to write; I’m not going to edit. Do you take days off?

Oh, all the time! Sometimes I say, “Today, I’m going to clean my house and go to the movies.” Or, “Today, [my wife] Tahereh and I are going to ride our bikes and go and eat too much Persian food.” That happens a lot. That’s a lot of our days, actually.

I spent the last three months plotting book three [of the Peculiar Children series]. So just in the last couple of days I’ve transitioned into writing actual sentences on pages of the book, and now that I have that momentum, I do want to write every day—at least a little, just to keep the thread. A lot, preferably, but between books I’ll go months and months without writing. It’s exhausting. I’m just like, “I can’t.”

That’s a long break between projects! It’s a wonder that you fall back into the groove at all. Is writer’s block ever a problem for you?

I don’t really believe in that whole “wait for the muse to strike” thing. I’m more of a “sit your ass in a chair and start typing” guy. … People treat writer’s block like it’s this kind of mythical, mystical ailment. It’s actually a very specific problem, and that is that something is wrong with your story, or wrong with your scene, and you’re trying to do something that is not motivated by your characters. If your writer’s block is so complete that you don’t even know where to start, it’s probably that you’re not spending enough time at the keyboard. It’s all part of the process.

I also think that writer’s block comes from judging yourself too much, and [thinking], I only wrote one sentence today! I’m terrible!

How do you keep yourself in a chair and working when you’re so active on social media?

I find myself retreating from social media when I need to work. I realize that I’m becoming too dependent on talking to everyone on Twitter. It’s too distracting. I’m constantly reaching for it, like a drug or something.

You can spend a whole day clicking and scrolling and feeling like you’ve gotten something done—Oh man, that was a really funny tweet—but then at the end of the day you’re like, I did nothing. All day, I’ve done nothing at all. I have nothing to show for it. Except that funny tweet, of course.

So you live in Los Angeles with your wife, bestselling YA author Tahereh Mafi. And you two work together. Do you share a desk?

Yes. It’s a very long desk, very wide. So there’s space enough for our things and our laptops and all our books, and we put on our noise-canceling headphones and [work]. That’s the thing about being married to another writer—we know all of the ways in which the other person is weird and quirky, because all writers are a little weird and quirky. So we [know we] need our quiet, broody time, but then we need to run around and go have fun when writing time is over—when work is over—because we’ve been kind of cooped up inside of our own brains all day. It works. Somehow it works.

You share a lot of your social media time with Tahereh, too, which your fans seem to love. But it seems as if it could become overwhelming at a certain point. Do you ever try to hold back?

I think we’re pretty knee-deep in it all, we read a lot of it. And it’s largely positive, which I think is pretty rare. I’ve been waiting for negative weirdness to start to surface, but it hasn’t yet.

I wouldn’t keep posting pictures of Tahereh on Instagram if people didn’t keep going, “Yay! Give us more,” you know? I feel like we both have been waiting for the Internet to collectively be like, “OK, gag me, it’s enough already!” But, bafflingly, it hasn’t happened yet, so we just keep going.

How about some parting advice for writers?

Just unclench, live your life and spend less time berating yourself. Anxiety and stress are the enemies of creativity.

***********************************************************************************************************************
CrezoAdrienne Crezo is the managing editor of WD. She lives, works and writes in Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @a_crezo.

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6527. Summer's End (Back to School)

It all starts today:  public school, our classical homeschooling co-op, the worship school and theater classes!


So here's the quick low-down for the school year.

The two oldest are not going to school, but working. B23 continues to work a couple shifts a week at a dollar store. He's not fast at unpacking boxes, but he's faithful to arrive at work at 5 a.m.! Blondechick21 just finished a summer of nannying for an attorney she knows from church, who invited her to come work part-time at her law firm this fall. She's hoping there will be enough filing and data entry to turn into a full-time position there! She's the only one not living at home; she's staying with a couple from our church who are graciously renting their second floor to her. It's a charming space, with alcoves and swing out windows, with views of lovely gardens in the neighbor's yard. If the bathroom weren't in the basement with the spiders and other creepy crawlies, it would be perfect. ;)

B19 is going to the School of Worship--the same school that Blondechick went to last year. It was such a rich year of discipleship and mentoring for her, and it seems like B19's class is going to be another great group of students. He anticipates lots of "bro time"--13 out of the 25 students are guys! He'll be in class from 8 to 3:30 daily--a big time commitment.

B15 will begin his sophomore year at the public high school. He's excited to be in Chorale this year--the school's top choir--and in Madrigals again. He took driver's ed this summer and has his permit, but  we are not sure about letting him get his license when he turns 16 in February--can't afford a sixth driver on our policy! We are hoping the two oldest can get some more hours at work and be able to start paying for their portion. Meanwhile, he has a ride to and from school with a neighbor who's a senior--a blessing that will net him several more hours of sleep a week compared to taking the bus.

Chicklet-almost-12 will be homeschooled again this year, but B9 is going to go to the local elementary school. We are in the same high school district in our new location, but it's a different elementary and middle school; the middle school has a terrible reputation, but the elementary school is outstanding, we hear. As I prayed about this year, I kept feeling a nudge from the Lord to put him there. 

It wasn't an easy decision, because I am excited about our next year with our homeschooling co-op! We were a Classical Conversations community last year, but to have more flexibility with what we do, we decided to become a co-op instead. We are still using the CC curriculum, with some modifications, but we are free to adjust the schedule, teachers and class sizes as we like. I'm especially eager to tweak the grammar and writing portion that I teach to 4th - 6th graders, to make the material more engaging, to focus on grammar usage as much or more than on memory work, and to include some more enjoyable writing assignments.

B9 has friends in the co-op too, which is the main reason why he didn't want to go to school. But I have a feeling that I'm going to be pretty distracted with house projects, at least for the fall, and I'm afraid I just won't have much patience or energy to sit with him and make sure he does his work. It's very tempting to delegate that task to someone else! Also Chicklet will get more done without him around, and she needs to have a good year, being in sixth grade, her first year of middle school. On the other hand, he will have homework, and there will be school communications and deadlines to stay on top of, and lunches to make and pay for, and all those things add up to a big chunk of time also.

I had trouble sorting out all the pros and cons, but couldn't get away from the feeling that it might just be a good thing for him to go. It will probably be more of a challenge for him than what I would be able to commit to providing this year, and I think he'll benefit from being pushed by someone other than me. A little positive peer pressure never hurt either, and he's quite social. We met his teacher and saw his classroom, and now he's pretty excited to start. We'll see how it goes!


0 Comments on Summer's End (Back to School) as of 9/2/2014 11:30:00 AM
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6528. Fox’s Garden

Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

by Princesse Camcam (Enchanted Lion, 2014)

It’s hot in Los Angeles. Like, super really really hot. That’s why this book is an especially welcome reprieve. A book with snow in it? Please. A book with cool blues and winter scenes? Yes.

This is Fox’s Garden.

It’s a lovely little book.

Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

A lone fox, stark red against the white forest. A house in the distance, swirling with the colors of home and twilight. Frightened grownups chase him away. A boy cloaked in red, watching and waiting and caring. Fox's Garden by Princesse CamcamFox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

This boy loves animals. They are in sketches, framed on his wall. They are in mobiles and stuffed friends, in bookshelves and toy chests. Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

This fox, followed by her brood, leaves blossoms of kindness right back for the boy. It’s a tale of sharing and growth and unlikely accomplices. No words, all heart.Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

And the pictures. My French is un peu rusty, but according to Princesse Camcam’s blog, these have got to be cut paper illustrations, lit and photographed. They are intricate and textured, perfect layers for this story of a fox and his friend.

Remember when we talked about complementary colors setting the tone and mood? The rich red of the fox is set apart so dramatically from the snowy scene and the stark greenhouse. It’s a mood, and it’s a strong one. It’s so pretty, too.Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

Keep an eye on Enchanted Lion, folks. They are in the business of making beautiful books.

Be kind to a chased-away stranger today.

ch

Review copy provided by the publisher.

 

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6529. R.L. Stine to Re-Boot ‘Fear Street’ YA Series

Writer R.L. Stine plans to re-boot his popular Fear Street book series. The last Fear Street title was published back in 1999.

St Martin’s Griffin will release Party Games on September 30th. In an interview with MartiniProductionsNY, Stine revealed that he has 6 more Fear Street books planned for the future. We’ve embedded his announcement on Twitter below.

Here’s more from Bustle: “Stine’s Fear Street series was the YA equivalent to his middle grade series Goosebumps. It was ‘sleep with the lights on’ spooky, and occasionally just skewed the right amount toward silly. (Can I direct your attention to Cat?) The series was a commercial smash, and now it has acquired a cult following from twenty- and thirtysomethings across the country.”

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6530. Coloring Page Tuesday - H is for Hippo!

     I received the sweetest note from a librarian for the Cedar City Public Library in Utah recently. She's featuring a different alphabet letter for each of her storytimes this year and is using my coloring pages to help with the topics. How sweet is that!?
      But then it occurred to me - do I have a coloring page for every letter? Or better yet, do I have a reading critter for every letter? I have a lot, but there are a few holes, which I plan to remedy over the next few months...not neccessarily in order.
     This week - you get a HIPPO reading the awesome THE HICCUPOTAMUS by Aaron Zenz. Speaking of Zs (for Zenzzz), I can't wait to show you what I have for the more difficult letters of the alphabet. But lo, it must wait...You'll just have to come back to see!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
AWARDS
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

0 Comments on Coloring Page Tuesday - H is for Hippo! as of 9/2/2014 8:50:00 AM
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6531. Fox’s Garden

Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

by Princesse Camcam (Enchanted Lion, 2014)

It’s hot in Los Angeles. Like, super really really hot. That’s why this book is an especially welcome reprieve. A book with snow in it? Please. A book with cool blues and winter scenes? Yes.

This is Fox’s Garden.

It’s a lovely little book.Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

A lone fox, stark red against the white forest. A house in the distance, swirling with the colors of home and twilight. Frightened grownups chase him away. A boy cloaked in red, watching and waiting and caring. Fox's Garden by Princesse CamcamFox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

This boy loves animals. They are in sketches, framed on his wall. They are in mobiles and stuffed friends, in bookshelves and toy chests. Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

This fox, followed by her brood, leaves blossoms of kindness right back for the boy. It’s a tale of sharing and growth and unlikely accomplices. No words, all heart.Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

And the pictures. My French is un peu rusty, but according to Princesse Camcam’s blog, these have got to be cut paper illustrations, lit and photographed. They are intricate and textured, perfect layers for this story of a fox and his friend.

Remember when we talked about complementary colors setting the tone and mood? The rich red of the fox is set apart so dramatically from the snowy scene and the stark greenhouse. It’s a mood, and it’s a strong one. It’s so pretty, too.Fox's Garden by Princesse Camcam

Keep an eye on Enchanted Lion, folks. They are in the business of making beautiful books.

Be kind to a chased-away stranger today.

ch

Review copy provided by the publisher.

 


Tagged: color theory, complementary colors, cut paper, enchanted lion books, princesse camcam

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6532. I Think I’m a Clone Now

Ah, back home and time to relax. Long weeks are brutal. Is that the television you hear? Well you haven’t been home all day so you decide to check it out, thinking you left it on. As you enter the room you see the television is indeed on. And you’re already sitting there watching it. What’s going on here?

writing-promptsWant more creative writing prompts?

Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.

Order now from our shop.

 

 

 

 

 

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6533. Prismatic Palette



Frank Mason (1921-2009) was a painter and teacher at the Art Students League who used a shelf-like palette arrangement for his oil paints called "The Prismatic Palette." One of Mason's students, Keith Gunderson, explained it to me this way:

Prismatic Palette by Leslie Watkins
"The value scale was the essence of the shelf arrangements, with emphasis on “Orange Value” as the unifying tone of the lights. The shelves were arrayed with a string of greens made from “Parent Green”; premixed value strings of Blue, Violet, and Grey to calibrate atmospheric perspective; a shelf for pre-mixed tints for the sky; and a “Control String” of pure colors squeezed from the tube, arranged by value from light to dark." 

"Modulating a color with it’s complement was often substituted by mixing grey or brown into that color... perhaps an influence of Frank’s teacher  [Frank Vincent] Dumond (1865-1951) and Dumond’s teacher, [Jules Joseph] Lefebvre (1836–1911)."

I have also heard "parent green" referred to as "vegetable green," the color of transmitted light through backlit young leaves.
Landscape by Frank Vincent Dumond
Here are a couple of paintings by League instructor and link to the French tradition, Frank Vincent Dumond, showing his very sensitive approach to color.
Dumond, Christ and the Fishermen, 1891
Leslie Watkins, another Mason student, describes the prismatic palette this way:

From Pinterest via Outdoor Painter
"It clarifies several strings of colors into even steps, with the lightest or highest values descending to the lowest or darkest tones." 

"The steps are based on pure colors from cadmium lemon yellow to alizarin crimson. The different strings of colors consist of grays, violets, blues and greens."

Another Art Students League teacher (and another Frank), Frank Reilly (1906-1965), also taught a value-based system of premixing palette colors, but it was different from Mason's. Reilly's lineage connects him to GérômeDelaroche and Boulanger

Both systems are descendants of a common practice among painters before the 20th century to premix colors in sequences of stepped values, analogous to the keys and manuals of a pipe organ.

I'm obviously no expert on the League instructors' systems, so I welcome further insights and discussion in the comments.

Previously on GJ Premixing Color
More on the Prismatic Palette by Leslie Watkins at the Art Times Journal

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6534. The real story of Saint Patrick

Everyone knows about Saint Patrick — the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland, defeated fierce Druids in contests of magic, and used the shamrock to explain the Christian Trinity to the pagan Irish. It’s a great story, but none of it is true. The shamrock legend came along centuries after Patrick’s death, as did the miraculous battles against the Druids. Forget about the snakes — Ireland never had any to begin with. No snakes, no shamrocks, and he wasn’t even Irish.

The real story of St. Patrick is much more interesting than the myths. What we know of Patrick’s life comes only through the chance survival of two remarkable letters which he wrote in Latin in his old age. In them, Patrick tells the story of his tumultuous life and allows us to look intimately inside the mind and soul of a man who lived over fifteen hundred years ago. We may know more biographical details about Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, but nothing else from ancient times opens the door into the heart of a man more than Patrick’s letters. They tell the story of an amazing life of pain and suffering, self-doubt and struggle, but ultimately of faith and hope in a world which was falling apart around him.

1024px-Saint_Patrick_(window)
Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. Photo by Simon Carrasco. CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The historical Patrick was not Irish at all, but a spoiled and rebellious young Roman citizen living a life of luxury in fifth-century Britain when he was suddenly kidnapped from his family’s estate as a teenager and sold into slavery across the sea in Ireland. For six years he endured brutal conditions as he watched over his master’s sheep on a lonely mountain in a strange land. He went to Ireland an atheist, but there heard what he believed was the voice of God. One day he escaped and risked his life to make a perilous journey across Ireland, finding passage back to Britain on a ship of reluctant pirates. His family welcomed back their long-lost son and assumed he would take up his life of privilege, but Patrick heard a different call. He returned to Ireland to bring a new way of life to a people who had once enslaved him. He constantly faced opposition, threats of violence, kidnapping, and even criticism from jealous church officials, while his Irish followers faced abuse, murder, and enslavement themselves by mercenary raiders. But through all the difficulties Patrick maintained his faith and persevered in his Irish mission.

The Ireland that Patrick lived and worked in was utterly unlike the Roman province of Britain in which he was born and raised. Dozens of petty Irish kings ruled the countryside with the help of head-hunting warriors while Druids guided their followers in a religion filled with countless gods and perhaps an occasional human sacrifice. Irish women were nothing like those Patrick knew at home. Early Ireland was not a world of perfect equality by any means, but an Irish wife could at least control her own property and divorce her husband for any number of reasons, including if he became too fat for sexual intercourse. But Irish women who were slaves faced a cruel life. Again and again in his letters, Patrick writes of his concern for the many enslaved women of Ireland who faced beatings and abuse on a daily basis.

Patrick wasn’t the first Christian to reach Ireland; he wasn’t even the first bishop. What made Patrick successful was his dogged determination and the courage to face whatever dangers lay ahead, as well as the compassion and forgiveness to work among a people who had brought nothing but pain to his life. None of this came naturally to him, however. He was a man of great insecurities who constantly wondered if he was really cut out for the task he had been given. He had missed years of education while he was enslaved in Ireland and carried a tremendous chip on his shoulder when anyone sneered, as they frequently did, at his simple, schoolboy Latin. He was also given to fits of depression, self-pity, and violent anger. Patrick was not a storybook saint, meek and mild, who wandered Ireland with a beatific smile and a life free from petty faults. He was very much a human being who constantly made mistakes and frequently failed to live up to his own Christian ideals, but he was honest enough to recognize his shortcomings and never allow defeat to rule his life.

You don’t have to be Irish to admire Patrick. His is a story of inspiration for anyone struggling through hard times public or private in a world with unknown terrors lurking around the corner. So raise a glass to the patron saint of Ireland, but remember the man behind the myth.

Headline image credit: Oxalis acetosella. Photo by Erik Fitzpatrick. CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post The real story of Saint Patrick appeared first on OUPblog.

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6535. Corrugated Trees

2014-09-02

Corrugated Trees | The corrugation is one of my favorite textures that I haven’t found much use for. I think the texture and repetition of the vertical lines are comfortable regular rhythms.

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6536. Geometric September

The bold geometries of baled hay. 
The beginning of September.

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6537. KidLit Events Sept. 2-9

Fall events are off and rolling! Here’s what’s going on this week:

September 6, Saturday, 2:00 PMTHE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS by Skylar Dorset
Blue Willow Bookshop
Skylar Dorset, YA Author

Debut author Skylar Dorset will discuss and sign her novel for young adults, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. In Selkie’s family, you don’t celebrate birthdays. You don’t talk about birthdays. And you never, ever reveal your birth date. Until now. The instant Selkie blurts out the truth to Ben in the middle of Boston Common, her whole world shatters.

Because her life has been nothing but a lie—an elaborate enchantment meant to conceal the truth: Selkie is a half-faerie princess. And her mother wants her dead.

September 8, Monday, 7:00 PMARMY CAMELS: TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT by Doris Fisher
Tracy Gee Community Center
SCBWI Houston
Doris Fisher, Children’s Author

Doris Fisher, won the Crystal Kite Award for the Texas/Oklahoma Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators region this year for her book, ARMY CAMELS, TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT. Doris will talk a little about her writing journey, so don’t miss hearing her story. Also, local writers who attended the National SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles this month will share what they learned from the many breakout sessions and keynotes.

September 9, Tuesday, 6:00 P.M.A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall
Katy Budget Books
Sandy Hall, YA Author

Teen librarian Sandy Hall signs her debut YA romance novel, A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT, which was selected as the first novel to be published by Swoon Reads, a crowd-sourced teen romance imprint. This sweet romance between two college students is told from 14 different viewpoints. The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it.

Please remember to check the website of the sponsoring bookstore or organization for the most up-to-date information on these events.

 

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6538. LeVar Burton Wins the Geek of the Year Award

LeVar Burton has won in the “Geek of the Year” category at the 2nd annual Geekie Awards. He received a special limited edition Gibson guitar as his prize.

The video embedded above features Burton singing the Reading Rainbow theme song and delivering his acceptance speech. What do you think? (via Tech Times)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6539. I Have A "Few" Comics

A young woman, while discussing comics, pointed out to me that I was "quite spoilt for choice" I think she was probably right!

I have a lot of comic scans on disc -French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Russian, Chinese -lots of Chinese manhua!- and more.  And my physical collection is just as varied: French, German, Nederlands, Belgian, Italian, Finnish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, New Zealand, Czech, Slovakian, Hungarian...quite a lot and please do not get me started on the books stolen over the years!

English language...lots!  I know I mentioned Australia and New Zealand above but I was referring to country of origin, not language.  American comics, of course and the bulk I have on disc are Golden Age because, apart from the Centaur black and white collection I did, I don't think anyone else publishes collections from the long gone companies?  And Silver Age.  Yes, quite a few and I really want to get complete runs of certain series such as The Sub-Mariner (and I am almost there) that I really like.  Obscure 1960s publishers...yes. Even obscure 1970s-1990s publishers!

Modern era, well, certainly not Marvel or DC and to be honest not much gets me excited these days.

Independent comics and books -far more than "a few"!  As for Small Press I do have non-UK collections but my collection from 1970s-1990s constitute two huge piles that I've just catalogued and now need to store safely.

Like my music -everything from Classical to Punk and German Schlager, Italo Pop/Disco, French and so on- I do like a variety.

Now you can probably guess why so many people/researchers as well as companies contact me as what they like to term "a knowledgeable authority on international comics" -boosting the ego before the tag line of "We can't pay you..." HAH! I put an end to that.

In the United States or even Europe I'd probably be getting steady paid work -maybe even editing books for a company- but the UK? Nothing.  People have made Wikipedia entries on me under British comics and the British Small Press....they seemed shocked that those entries are removed within a day or two. Perhaps I ought to have gone the brown-nose route or even continuously just published "pot-boiler" books on comics using the work of others free of charge as "examples". Hmm?

At least in US and European data bases -Lambiek et al- I have recognition.

I am open to paying work offers you know!

And I do so love the 'joke' emails such as "Did you come to the Melksham Comic Con?" (amongst others) because they want to see your photos, blog posts and reviews of the events. I trash these messages.  "Why, Terry?"   Well: (1) I was NEVER invited.  (2) I never "won" a table there as a trader and (3) these people only contact me when THEY want something. Everything else it's silence or "**** off. We can't publicise your books or mention you! Just give US publicity!"

Meandering post for a meandering Tuesday....now I need to go chase the sparrowhawk off!

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6540. Rabbit Ears

Rabbit-EarsWhen I was in my teens, I kept certain memories secret, even (as best I could) from myself; otherwise, they would scald me from the inside out, boil me up in my own shame. For instance, when I was seventeen some stuff happened in a car with a stranger. I didn’t mention that stuff to anyone—and I mean not a soul—for at least ten years.

In my new novel, Rabbit Ears, I give that one awful experience in the car to my character Kaya, who is largely based on my sister, Sarah. Sarah started running away from home when she was thirteen, and ended up selling sex to survive and struggling with addiction in Vancouver’s inner city. In 1998, she disappeared. In 2002, her DNA was found on a serial murderer’s property.

In the story, Kaya doesn’t tell about what happens in that car. Unlike me, but like my sister, she is already holding bigger secrets. Those secrets—that killing silence—led me to tell Kaya’s story.

A few years ago, a woman I knew only a little bit emailed to ask if she could meet with me. She had a secret, she said, a secret about my sister.

“Yes,” I said, dreading what she might tell me.

She came to my house, a friend in tow for support, and told me that when she was a kid, Sarah was sexually abused by a neighbor. It went on for years, she said. It went on until puberty. This woman knew, because it happened to her too.

It was shocking news, horrible to learn that Sarah had suffered in that way when she was small, and that she never told us, to realize that her suffering began so much earlier than we knew. I found myself haunted by this new information, trying to take it in, to understand this new part of my sister’s experience, and her silence. Rabbit Ears arose from that haunting.

The story is fiction, but the Sarah in the story is real.

It was a joy, for me, writing my sister to life so long after her death. There’s a scene on a swing set that is drawn straight from a story a woman told me about her and Sarah. I changed its location. The little grey house where Sarah lived, at Princess and Hastings, is in the story as is the corner where she, and, in the story, Kaya, worked. When Kaya goes into Sarah’s house, she sees spilled pudding that comes straight out of my memories. And a scrawny kitten. And, outside, a glorious garden.

My book was always called Rabbit Ears because the older sister loves magic. I’ve only recently made the association between the ears and listening, paying attention. Then, while I was working on revisions, I saw an old video of my sister, and, for the first time in my life, saw that she had a Playboy Bunny tattooed on the top of her left breast. Rabbit ears. Thank you, Sarah, for your blessing!

I wanted to tell a story about a girl who went through what my sister went through, but survived, a story about a girl who broke the silence that was holding her prisoner, a story about a group of girls who paid attention, who reached out.

I believe in these possibilities for Kaya and for each one of us.

 

Maggie de Vries’s latest novel, Hunger Journeys, won the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize and was called “historical fiction at its best” by CM Magazine. She has written six other works for young readers, as well as one book for adults, Missing Sarah. A former children’s book editor and writer-in-residence for the Vancouver Public Library, she now focuses on teaching creating writing at the University of British Columbia and her own writing. She lives in Vancouver.

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6541. FRAGILE REIGN (Mortal Enchantment #2) by Stacey O'Neale {Cover Reveal & Giveaway)

We're thrilled to help reveal the cover for FRAGILE REIGN (Mortal Enchantment #2) by Stacey O'Neale! Check out the cover below, and let us know what you think in the comments. Then be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Amazon or B&N gift card!   Details about the cover, from author Stacey O'Neale: In case you're curious about the cover, the model represents Marcus.

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6542. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Promo "Saving Lives" (HD)

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6543. My tweets

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6544. We want diverse books

The Loft asked me for a blog post about diversity in kidlit:

“It’s so easy as an adult to fall into rigid and boring habits of mind about what young people “need” from us—as if all we had to offer was medicine—but a great thing about teaching a class for teens about fisticuffs and fornication is that conventional notions of what young people today “need” are pretty much out the window from the start. This was a class about wanting…”

The rest is at The Loft’s Writers’ Block blog.

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6545. The Wilderness Act of 1964 in historical perspective

Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on 3 September 1964, the Wilderness Act defined wilderness “as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” It not only put 1.9 million acres under federal protection, it created an entire preservation system that today includes nearly 110 million acres across forty-four states and Puerto Rico—some 5% of the land in the United States. These public lands include wildlife refuges and national forests and parks where people are welcome as visitors, but may not take up permanent residence.

The definition of what constitutes “wilderness” is not without controversy, and some critics question whether preservation is the best use of specific areas. Nevertheless, most Americans celebrate the guarantee that there will always be special places in the United States where nature can thrive in its unfettered state, without human intervention or control. Campers, hikers, birdwatchers, scientists and other outdoor enthusiasts owe much to Howard Zahniser, the act’s primary author.

In recent decades, environmental awareness and protection are values just about as all-American as Mom and apple pie. Despite the ill-fated “Drill, Baby, Drill,” slogan of the 2008 campaign, virtually all political candidates, whatever their party, profess concern about the environment and a commitment to its protection. As a professor, I have a hard time persuading my students, who were born more than two decades after the first Earth Day (in 1970), that environmental protection was once commonly considered downright traitorous.

For generations, many Americans were convinced that it was the exploitation of natural resources that made America great. The early pioneers survived because they wrested a living from the wilderness, and their children and grandchildren thrived because they turned natural resources into profit. Only slowly did the realization come that people had been so intent on pursuing vast commercial enterprises they failed to consider their environmental impact. When, according to the 1890 census, the frontier was closed, the nation was no longer a land of ever-expanding boundaries and unlimited resources. Birds like the passenger pigeon and the Carolina Parakeet were hunted into extinction; practices like strip-mining left ugly scars on the land, and clear-cutting made forest sustainability impossible.

At the turn of the last century members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs called for the preservation of wilderness, especially through the creation of regional and national parks. They enjoyed the generous cooperation of the Forest Service during the Theodore Roosevelt administration, but found that overall, “it is difficult to get anyone to work for the public with the zeal with which men work for their own pockets.”

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir atop Glacier Point in Yosemite. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Not surprisingly, Theodore Roosevelt framed his support for conservation in terms of benefiting people rather than (non-human) nature. In 1907 he addressed both houses of Congress to gain support for his administration’s effort to “get our people to look ahead and to substitute a planned and orderly development of our resources in place of a haphazard striving for immediate profit.” It is a testament to Roosevelt’s persona that he could sow the seeds of conservationism within a male population deeply suspicious of any argument even remotely tinged with what was derided as “female sentimentality.” Writer George L. Knapp, for example, termed the call for conservation “unadulterated humbug” and the dire prophecies of further extinction “baseless vaporings.” He preferred to celebrate the fruits of men’s unregulated resource consumption: “The pine woods of Michigan have vanished to make the homes of Kansas; the coal and iron which we have failed—thank Heaven!—to ‘conserve’ have carried meat and wheat to the hungry hives of men and gladdened life with an abundance which no previous age could know.” According to Knapp, men should be praised, not chastened, for turning “forests into villages, mines into ships and skyscrapers, scenery into work.”

The press reinforced the belief that the use of natural resources equaled progress. The Houston Post, for example, declared, “Smoke stacks are a splendid sign of a city’s prosperity,” and the Chicago Record Herald reported that the Creator who made coal “knew that smoke would be a good thing for the world.” Pittsburgh city leaders equated smoke with manly virtue and derided the “sentimentality and frivolity” of those who sought to limit industry out of baseless fear of the by-products it released into the air.

Pioneering educator and psychologist G. Stanley Hall confirmed that “caring for nature was female sentiment, not sound science.” Gifford Pinchot, made first chief of the Forestry Service in 1905, was a self-avowed conservationist. He escaped charges of effeminacy by making it clear that he measured nature’s value by its service to humanity. He dedicated his agency to “the art of producing from the forest whatever it can yield for the service of man.” “Trees are a crop, just like corn,” he famously proclaimed, “Wilderness is waste.”

Looking back at the last fifty years, the Wilderness Act of 1964 is an important achievement. But it becomes truly remarkable when viewed in the context of the long history that preceded it.

Headline image credit: Cook Lake, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming. Photos by the Pinedale Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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6546. Unwritten: The Wound

The Unwritten, Vol. 7: The Wound Mike Carey and Peter Gross

We start with the Tinker and Pauly-Rabbit hanging out in a wasteland, encountering streams of fictional refugees, streaming from The Wave.

Then we switch to a detective in Australia, who partners up with Danny--the reader from the last issue in Tommy Taylor and the War of Words--to infiltrate the Tommy Taylor cult. Tom and Richie then go hide out and deal with some very real ghosts in Tom’s past.

This is a good “must set up next plot point” volume, but nothing spectacular. EXCEPT that it introduces us to Danny and Didge (the detective), and they are awesome and great additions. (Also, let’s give a shout to Didge, who’s Aboriginal and dyslexic. Turns out dyslexia is a pretty great defense against Pullman’s freaky fiction hand! Also, she’s generally awesome and literally kicks a lot of ass.)

Book Provided by... my local library

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6547. TURNING PAGES: BOMBAY BLUES by Tanuja Desai Hidier

I was just starting grad school when the bright, thick, door-stopper of a book, BORN CONFUSED came out. I read it in between cramming other studies in, and found its sharply delineated cross-cultural content unlike much of the homogenized young... Read the rest of this post

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6548. Teamwork Quotes

Teamwork Saying from an Unknown Source:

"It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn't matter who gets the credit. "
~ Unknown
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Amber Harding Team Work Quote:
"Contrary to popular belief, there most certainly is an "I" in "team." It is the same "I" that appears three times in "responsibility." "
~ Amber Harding
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6549. Tune In Tuesday

Welcome to the first ever Tune In Tuesday! What is Tune In Tuesday? It's a monthly round up about music-favorite songs, favorite albums, and favorite ways to use it in the library! If you have a Tune In Tuesday post this month, be sure to share it in the comments so I can add it to the round up-and let me know if you want to host next month. (Also, if anyone is super creative with making logos, would you make one for Tune In Tuesday?)


 

-I only recently discovered Bari Koral Family Rock Band and it's a new favorite of mine. When I looked the groups website, I noticed a blurb that said "Sheryl Crow for kids" and I couldn't agree more. 

The songs are catchy and folksy and perfect for kids of all ages and their grown ups. The album has a great indie folk feel and is one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to adults. I wouldn't be surprised if adults enjoyed listening to this one even without the kids around.

 I used some songs from this album at my most recent Bibliobop dance party and they were big hits. I used Bee with scarves and had the kids shake the scarves anytime the chorus came on about the bumblebee. It was a great slow versus fast song and I had one girl tell me that it was her favorite song of the day. I also used Give a Hug as an ending song and plan to use it in an upcoming storytime on friendship. I've also recently started using it as background music during activity and craft time during storytime and it's fantastic background music too! 



-Zee Avi is an artist who needs to produce more children's albums. Seriously, Ms. Avi-please getto work on that right now and children and parents everywhere will thank you. Nightlight  is a cover album full of lullabies ranging from Rainbow Connection to Don't Worry Be Happy to Mockingbird. There's also a Nightlight Medley which includes a Malaysian lullaby perfect for introducing kids to lullabies from around the world. (and would pair nicely with Putumayo Kids Dreamland) The entire collection is beautiful with Zee Avi's delicate and tender voice and gorgeous melodies combining to make a fantastic lullaby collection that's not just for kids-or bedtime. This album is perfect for anytime you want to put some lovely, peaceful music. 

I used Mockingbird as a parachute song at my dance party. It was the perfect tempo for the younger kids and a great calm song to slow things down after a full morning of dancing hard. This would be another great choice to also use as background playtime music anytime.


Roundup:

Abby the Librarian talks about using Asheba's Monkeys-this is one of my favorites too Abby! 

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6550. The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern {Guest Post by Hannah Rials}

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{Guest post by Hannah Rials}
The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern
The Meaning of Maggie
Maggie Mayfield is beyond genius.
She knows everything. She always makes perfect grades, and one day, she’s going to be president of the United States of America. She is only eleven years old, but what does that matter? Eleven is the year that changes everything. Eleven turns out to be the year where she learns that not all boys are weird, not all popular kids are mean, and her sisters aren’t jerks all the time. But eleven is also the year where she realizes that her dad is a lot sicker than her parents have led her to believe, and that her life is going to change. For better or for worse, we can’t tell.
Since she knows everything, Maggie believes that she can fix her dad, and she makes a goal of it as her New Year’s resolution. But what if some things can’t be fixed? How does a girl like Maggie deal with not being able to fix her cool dude dad?
So now Maggie has decided to write her life’s memoir, about her eleventh year, when everything changed, she got a little wiser and a lot more understanding.
The Meaning of Maggie is an inspiring coming of age story that struggles through the adolescent frustration of wanting to know everything but not necessarily being able to handle such information. Maggie’s super cool dad and hardworking mom teach their know it all daughter the value of holding onto childhood as long as you can, which is a mistake we all make—wanting to grow up too fast. Maggie Mayfield is extremely relatable; I can even remember being like her. All ten, eleven, and twelve year olds will be able to connect to her problems, her school issues, and her need to know everything without realizing the consequences.
Activities for The Meaning of Maggie:
  1. The Key to writing a good memoir like Maggie

memoir writing

-Be sure to remember all the good stuff
-Take a nice, sturdy journal with you everywhere to compile notes
-Don’t worry yourself with the trivial facts like what you had for lunch.

-Make sure to write about something memorable, the year that changed your life.

  • The perfect, Maggie-approved emergency candy stash

candy

1. Mini snickers
2. Skittles
3. M&Ms
4. Sour Gummy Worms
5. Mini 3 Musketeers
6. Sour Patch kids
7. Whoppers
*If allowed, Oreos and/or Chips a’Hoy!
  1. Maggie’s favorite song: the states’ song

  1. Maggie’s Albert Einstein Halloween costume Necessities

-A teasing comb (to get that wild, genius hair)
-Some Halloween white hairspray
-Eye liner (for that awesome mustache)
-A Lab coat
-A bow tie (your dad is sure to have one)
Hannha rials
Born in the hills of Louisiana and raised in the mountains of Tennessee, Hannah Rials is a eighteen year-old aspiring author and editor. She’s been writing short stories since she was a little girl, but for the past several years, she has been writing, editing, and reediting a novel of her own that she hopes to publish in the near future.  Hannah has always loved reading and the world of books. With a librarian grandmother who can tell the most magical stories, how could she not fall in love with the written word. Her library collection and love for books grows every day.
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