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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1547 Blogs, since 4/24/2008 [Help]
Results 20,676 - 20,700 of 481,540
20676. Friends.....


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20677. Laughing Last

I’ve been feeling lately like I’m having a hard time being enthusiastic about the books I’m reading. That happens every once in a while, and it’s always hard to tell whether it’s the books, or me suffering from a general deficiency of enthusiasm, or just my poor memory of how much I enjoyed things.

Looking back at recent posts, I don’t think it’s that third thing. I ended up mostly liking Dwell Deep, and Up the Hill and Over was fascinating, but neither of them comes anywhere near being my new favorite book. Although actually, The Turned-About Girls was great. And I guess Laughing Last, by Jane Abbott, isn’t my new favorite book either, but I love it enough to that I feel like I can safely blame any lack of enthusiasm on my recent reading material. I mean, I don’t feel like gushing about it or anything, but basically it was delightful and I have no complaints.

Jane Abbott is just so good, you know? Very few authors are as good at writing girls of a pre-romance age. And Laughing Last is very Jane Abbott-y, but it’s also got elements of L.T. Meade and Augusta Huiell Seaman and most of it is set in a kind of Joseph Crosby Lincoln milieu, and it’s just delightful in all sorts of ways. I might have to take back what I said about gushing.

The beginning of the book is perhaps the Meade-iest part. It introduces us to the four Romley girls, who range in age from 26 to 15. They’re the daughters of famous poet Joseph Romley, and while they do technically have a pair of guardians or trustees, in effect they’re under the thumb of the local chapter of the League of American Poets, which paid off the mortgage on their house, and consequently feels that it’s okay to bring tours through on Saturdays and keep the girls at their beck and call.

Isolde, the eldest, usually handles the tours, mostly because she’s the one who best fits everyone’s notions of how a poet’s daughter ought to look and act. Then there’s Trude, the practical, motherly one; Victoria, the prettiest and least responsible; and Sidney, the dreamy, stifled fifteen year old.

In search of adventure, Sidney invites herself to spend the summer with a totally unknown relative on Cape Cod. Elderly Achsa Green and her “different” nephew, Lavender, aren’t what Sidney expects, and nor is their home. Sidney’s kind of appalled at first, but with the help of the Green’s summer boarder, she learns to appreciate them. Then she meets Martie Calkins, a girl about her age, and learns a bunch of practical skills, like digging clams. And then, finally, she has a pretty exciting adventure. Jane Abbott’s good at adventures, too–this is, in a way, the most over the top adventure I’ve read in one of her books, but she keeps it grounded.

But mostly you just get to watch Sidney grow up a little, and see things turn out well for her, and it’s great. Sidney’s a little ridiculous sometimes, because she’s a fifteen year old girl with an imagination, but that’s actually an awesome thing to be, and Abbott doesn’t suggest otherwise or condescend.

Again: Jane Abbott is so good. I don’t know why I don’t read her more often.

 


Tagged: 1920s, girls, janeabbott

5 Comments on Laughing Last, last added: 8/8/2014
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20678. ‘The Proposition 5: The Ferro Family’ Leads the Self-Published Bestsellers List

The Proposition 5: The Ferro Family by H.M. Ward leads the Self-published Bestsellers List this week.

To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we compile weekly lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. You can read all the lists below, complete with links to each book.

If you want more resources as an author, try our Free Sites to Promote Your eBook post, How To Sell Your Self-Published Book in Bookstores post and our How to Pitch Your Book to Online Outlets post.

If you are an independent author looking for support, check out our free directory of people looking for writers groups. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20679. Simon & Schuster Acquires Self-Published YA Novel

Aladdin Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, has acquired the book rights to Strays a self-published YA novel about two orphans by Virginia Castleman.

Castleman self-published the book through Archway Publishing, a self-publishing service operated for Simon & Schuster by Author Solutions, back in February where it gained momentum and attention. This is the first time that a Simon & Schuster imprint has acquired a title from Archway.

“Virginia Castleman is a strong writer with a fascinating and emotionally wrenching story to tell,” explained Mara Anastas, Vice President and Publisher of Aladdin Books and Simon Pulse, in a statement. “I was immediately struck by her unique voice and storytelling ability, and we look forward to working with her to bring Strays to an even wider audience.”

The book is slated for a spring 2016 release.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20680. J. R. R. Tolkien’s 10 Tips For Writers: INFOGRAPHIC

EssayMamma.com has created an infographic called “J. R. R. Tolkien’s 10 Tips For Writers,” which highlights writing advice shared by the Lord of the Rings author.

Check it out: “Thanks to The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter, we can literally speak with the author of the world fantasy classic. After all, many of us are looking forward to the last part of the trilogy - ’The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies’.”

We’ve embedded the entire infographic after the jump for you to explore further. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20681. ‘Drunk History’ Tackles The Birth of Mickey Mouse

"Drunk History," the Comedy Central series in which drunk celebrities explain real history, set their inebriated sights last night on Walt Disney, Ub Iwerks, and the creation of Mickey Mouse.

0 Comments on ‘Drunk History’ Tackles The Birth of Mickey Mouse as of 8/6/2014 2:54:00 PM
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20682. Authors Talk Summer Reading

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

What’s the Big Deal About Summer Reading?

You have probably heard over and over again how important it is to keep reading during the summer while you’re not in school. If you haven’t heard this before, well then let me be the first person to tell you summer reading is important, people! You SHOULD read over the summer while you’re not in school!

We asked 2 very special Scholastic authors why this is true. Gordon Korman is the author of the Swindle series

, a few books in The 39 Clues series, and, like, a million other books. He published his first book when he was 14 years old! David Shannon is the author of picture books such as Alice the Fairy, A Bad Case of Stripes, and No, David!

Q: What is the top reason kids should read over the summer?

Gordon Korman: I think reading is kind of a self-feeding cycle — the more you read, the more you WANT to read. But when I write, my goal is primarily to entertain my readers. So my top reason kids should read over the summer is for fun.

David Shannon: To keep from becoming a slug! Reading keeps your imagination running in a way that TV and video games can’t. It works out your brain but relaxes your body, and those are both good things. There’s more down time in the summer, too, and you can read whatever you want.

So there you have it. Have fun and don’t be a slug! READ! When you do, you can log your minutes and be eligible for prizes in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

 Leave a Comment to tell us why YOU love summer reading, and whether or not you agree with these authors’ advice.

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20683. Why Books Are Important

Your work is important. What you have to say will change people’s lives.

The following video about how the Harry Potter Series affected one reader has been circling the internet. If you’re a writer and you haven’t seen it yet … you must.

Just watch it.

Books change lives.


1 Comments on Why Books Are Important, last added: 8/6/2014
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20684. Any Old Excuse....


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20685. Digital Textbooks Are Evolving College Students Learning Experiences: BISG Report

Digital textbooks are changing the way that college students obtain books and the way that courses are structured, according to BISG’s fourth annual report Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education, Volume 4,

The research tracks and analyzes how students and faculty members obtain, consumer and teach educational content in multiple media formats. According to the report, students usage of textbooks is declining slightly while online study guide usage is slowly gaining momentum. In addition, students revealed that they are always on the hunt for low cost and free ways to get course materials, from scanning copies of their friends’ books to downloading pirated copies of textbooks illegally.

Here is more from the press release: “Instructors report much higher levels of assigned textbooks than do students, while the percentage of students who actually purchase their books is lower still, perhaps as students ultimately are the ones to decide whether the value of a ‘required’ textbook justifies the cost.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20686. It’s here!

I guess I failed to mention here at my very own blog yesterday that I had a book release! I blame the bunny on the left. Yes, he knows he’s in trouble.

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and the late Peter D. Sieruta, is out from Candlewick Press. If you’re at all interested in reading it, the website we created for the book has ordering information here. And we’ve been posting daily over there stories that were cut from the book. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed writing at that site with Betsy, though of course we wish Peter were still with us. So super bad do we wish that. (On that note, don’t miss this special event, if you live near Oak Park, Michigan.)

Starting today, we are also sharing videos from authors and illustrators over at the Wild Things site. They’ll be telling behind-the-scenes stories about their upcoming 2014 books. We’re doing that, because … well, Wild Things is really a celebration of the children’s books we know and love, so this seems a fitting way to celebrate. Today’s video is from author N. D. Wilson, and boy howdy is it a treat (especially around moment 2:43 where N. D. quotes Beowulf’s opening lines, which pretty much just made my week).

For those of you near Nashville, I will have a book launch tomorrow night at Parnassus Books. Here’s the low-down. There will be wine, thanks to Dan Hutchinson at The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills. (I cannot WAIT to see which wine he chooses for our book — and why!)

Also, I’d like to quickly add that this has been one of my favorite write-ups about the book. Tracy is a talented writer.

Until tomorrow!

* * * * * * *

WILD THINGS!. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by David Roberts. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

1 Comments on It’s here!, last added: 8/6/2014
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20687. Working with Dream Themes: The Loss of Identity

Okau Road tunnel

Passing Through a Tight Place

One of the messages that Edgar Cayce had to say about dreams is that they point out the difference between how my higher self sees me and how my ego self sees me.  Dreams are always trying to get us to let go of ego and grow into our higher selves.   Nightmares are often caused by this clash between these two parts in each of us.   The ego just doesn’t want to let go to that higher self and the results show in fear, anger or depression!  Loss of identity dreams especially seem to be related to this issue of ego letting go.  When we worry too much about things like money, status, job opportunities and people loving us, “loss of identity” dreams often kick in, reminding us that there is more to us than our ego identity.

How we think of ourselves is something that seems to be very important in dreamtime.  I say this because so many of my dreams and those of my friends, students and colleagues who have shared their dreams with me note the theme of personal identity, or the loss of it, showing up in dreams—especially when we come to recognize our unique symbols or the commonly occurring symbols for this event.

I have to admit it was a long time before I recognized the symbol for what it meant in my dreams, even though I had the dream repeatedly over many years.   In the dream I would lose my purse or have it stolen, usually by a bunch of bratty kids.  I was aware enough to realize these nightmares usually occurred when I was worried about finances so I just assumed that’s all there was to it.   Having the dream repeat over a period of time should have clued me in that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the dream.  Here is a typical dream:

Dream:
I go through a tight place but make it through.  I realize I don’t have my purse.  I go back to the tight place and see a lot of women have left their purses here going through this tight place.

Reflection:
Going through a tight place evokes the feeling of going through the birth canal, the transition to a new level of being or awareness.  At the time of this dream I was just about to undergo a major spiritual event, a kundalini awakening.  After doing this, I would realize I don’t have my purse.  At the time, I had just come into an inheritance so money wasn’t an issue.  So what did the purse mean?  Sandra A. Thomson in Cloud Nine: A Dreamer’s Dictionary notes that it is related to identity. The purse holds one’s identity in the form of ID cards such as a driver’s license or passport.  Going through such a major transition would cause me to lose the way I look at myself, my identity—which indeed happened to an enormous degree.  The kundalini awakening had me undergo such physical, emotional and spiritual changes that I no longer recognized my “old self” on any of these dimensions.  However, eventually I was led to  experience the fact that at the core I am a being of energy and light, able to receive and transmit healing energy.   I was being transformed.  What a new spiritual identity!  The dream was telling me that it wasn’t just me but there are many other women who experience this loss of identity when undergoing major transitions.  The many women could be other women or other parts of myself.  As it turned out, I ended up making many changes which totally changed my waking life identity as well.  I left my career in IT consulting, moved to Hawaii, and became a writer, educator and life coach.


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20688. Death by Dessert, or How to Watch the World Cup On the Border

IMG_1339

We became pretty solid soccer fans while living in Germany, especially around World Cup time, so on our recent return trip, we were psyched to watch games with our German friends.

For the U.S. v. Germany game, though, we were on our own in France. We planned the whole evening around the game, which aired at 6 p.m. in that time zone.

It was also the only night we could eat at the local Michelin-starred restaurant—and the night they serve a very reasonable prix-fixe menu. So we made a late reservation to fit in both, planning to watch the game at our B & B.

Gourmet Salad

We’d biked 15 miles that day (a lot for us), and I planned to take a shower during half time.

One big problem. After the pre-game commentator chatter, the screen went blank with a message that said something like: “This game is not authorized to be shown in this region.” We flipped around, hoping another station would carry it, but the only game on was the other World Cup match happening at the same time.

Luckily, we were staying right near the German border, so I took a 3 minute shower, hopped into a dress, and we loaded up and drove to the ferry to cross the Rhine. On the other side, my husband knocked on restaurant doors until we found one with public viewing in its little bar area.

The one long table was full of retiree-aged tennis table club members, and the only free seats were at the front with a mustachioed man who’d already had a few too many beers.

He was friendly, though, and when he found out we were American, he told us over and over how much he loved Americans and how the best possible outcome for the game would be a 1-1 tie. He reminded us many times (a few too many) that the German coach and the American team coach (also German) were best friends and how they would both want this.

If you were watching, too, you know the Americans actually lost 0-1. We were disappointed, but after the game, everyone (except the kids) was treated to house-made pear Schnapps while the table tennis team sang the German victory song (is there a name for this?). Everyone was very friendly, and when it was over, we thanked our hosts and dashed back across the river to make our 8:30 reservation.

The restaurant was lovely, with a view to a garden and a stream. The noise level was nearly silent, but our kids were completely awesome and went with the flow.

We opted for the prix-fixe menu and added on the “Festival of Desserts,” which sounded perfect. We envisioned a dessert sampler.

First course (salad above) was great, second course (some kind of meat pie) was amazing. Meanwhile the service was first-rate. Our hostess made sure to graciously inform us when we were missing something, i.e. “You can actually eat those flowers,” and, “Those table decorations are actually pretzels” (in the first photo, the rock-looking things behind the ceramic elves).

Here’s the cheese table, from which we could choose what we liked.

Cheese Course

And then the desserts started. First, a platter of teeny tiny cookies of many kinds. Then, a pastry with gelato. Another pastry with gelato. Another….we were losing count.

French dessert

Surely the cookies had counted as dessert #1. There were supposed to be five desserts in total. Surely the gelato counted for one and the pastry counted for another, right? Wrong. The desserts kept coming, and we slowed down so much that we started getting two at once. The cookies hadn’t even counted as part of the five.

Gourmet dessert

Not only that, but the kids had gotten (included) a dessert of their own, so they couldn’t help us out so much. Still, we were determined to do our duty and eat every bite. On top of the five desserts + cookies + cheese course, there was a tiny truffle course where we could choose our own adventure. How could we say no?

At one point I said, “If they bring another dessert, I’m going to cry,” and we all started laughing, on the verge of breaking the Code of Near-Silence.

Finally we ate our way through the last plate, now having finished enough dessert for about ten people. The last plate was probably my favorite, some kind of cherry cake (pictured above). We rolled out, giggling to ourselves.

My son said the other day, “Let’s never take the circus of desserts next time.” Amen. Maybe just 1/10 of it.

Below is a picture of one of the children’s desserts.

Ice Cream Rabbit

And in case you’re wondering yes, I threw the whole gluten-free eating thing out the window that week. I paid for it the next week, but it was well worth it!

 

 


4 Comments on Death by Dessert, or How to Watch the World Cup On the Border, last added: 8/8/2014
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20689. Two-Faced?


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20690. WD Online Exclusive: Book Proposal Basics

The October 2014 Writer’s Digest lets you in on “The Secret to a Stronger Nonfiction Book Proposal”—but if you need a refresher on how to put the whole proposal together, we’ve got that covered, too, on The Writer’s Dig blog with 8 Essential Elements of a Nonfiction Book Proposal

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20691. Why Books Are Important

Your work is important. What you have to say will change people’s lives.

The following video about how the Harry Potter Series affected one reader has been circling the internet. If you’re a writer and you haven’t seen it yet … you must.

Just watch it.

Books change lives.


0 Comments on Why Books Are Important as of 8/6/2014 2:14:00 PM
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20692. Dating....


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20693. South Park Writers Share Their Writing Rule #1

This is a great presentation from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker on plotting using the key words “but” and “therefore.” It’s brilliant. Watch it.


Get More:
www.mtvu.com

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20694. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Andrew Robinson

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dusty star detail

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After serving his country in Desert Storm, artist Andrew Robinson attended The Savannah College of Art and Design in the early 90′s. He bounced around the south-eastern states for a while before settling on the west coast in sunny Pasadena, CA. His early comics work first appeared in popular anthologies such as Dark Horse Presents, and Negative Burn.

In the late 90′s he created the critically acclaimed independent comic, Dusty Star, and started to get high profile cover work for DC Comics on titles such as Hawkman, and Starman.

He’s had a resurgence in his comics work of late, with a multitude of new cover illustrations in recent years for Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, just to name a few. In addition to that, he illustrated the fully painted, award winning graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, which is set to be a major motion picture, soon.

To keep up with the latest news, and artwork by Andrew Robinson, you can go to his blog here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com - Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Andrew Robinson as of 8/6/2014 6:08:00 PM
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20695. My Writing and Reading Life: Anna Kang

Children notice and point out differences all the time, and it’s natural. But hopefully as we mature, we learn that all individuals are unique and that everyone is “different.”

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20696. Ben Macintyre, Liane Moriarty, & Amy Bloom Debut On the Indie Bestseller List

We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending August 03, 2014–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #1 in Hardcover Nonfiction) A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre: “Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain’s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War—while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby’s best friend and fellow officer in MI6.” (July 2014)

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20697. Working with Dream Themes: The Loss of Identity

Okau Road tunnel

Passing Through a Tight Place

One of the messages that Edgar Cayce had to say about dreams is that they point out the difference between how my higher self sees me and how my ego self sees me.  Dreams are always trying to get us to let go of ego and grow into our higher selves.   Nightmares are often caused by this clash between these two parts in each of us.   The ego just doesn’t want to let go to that higher self and the results show in fear, anger or depression!  Loss of identity dreams especially seem to be related to this issue of ego letting go.  When we worry too much about things like money, status, job opportunities and people loving us, “loss of identity” dreams often kick in, reminding us that there is more to us than our ego identity.

How we think of ourselves is something that seems to be very important in dreamtime.  I say this because so many of my dreams and those of my friends, students and colleagues who have shared their dreams with me note the theme of personal identity, or the loss of it, showing up in dreams—especially when we come to recognize our unique symbols or the commonly occurring symbols for this event.

I have to admit it was a long time before I recognized the symbol for what it meant in my dreams, even though I had the dream repeatedly over many years.   In the dream I would lose my purse or have it stolen, usually by a bunch of bratty kids.  I was aware enough to realize these nightmares usually occurred when I was worried about finances so I just assumed that’s all there was to it.   Having the dream repeat over a period of time should have clued me in that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the dream.  Here is a typical dream:

Dream:
I go through a tight place but make it through.  I realize I don’t have my purse.  I go back to the tight place and see a lot of women have left their purses here going through this tight place.

Reflection:
Going through a tight place evokes the feeling of going through the birth canal, the transition to a new level of being or awareness.  At the time of this dream I was just about to undergo a major spiritual event, a kundalini awakening.  After doing this, I would realize I don’t have my purse.  At the time, I had just come into an inheritance so money wasn’t an issue.  So what did the purse mean?  Sandra A. Thomson in Cloud Nine: A Dreamer’s Dictionary notes that it is related to identity. The purse holds one’s identity in the form of ID cards such as a driver’s license or passport.  Going through such a major transition would cause me to lose the way I look at myself, my identity—which indeed happened to an enormous degree.  The kundalini awakening had me undergo such physical, emotional and spiritual changes that I no longer recognized my “old self” on any of these dimensions.  However, eventually I was led to  experience the fact that at the core I am a being of energy and light, able to receive and transmit healing energy.   I was being transformed.  What a new spiritual identity!  The dream was telling me that it wasn’t just me but there are many other women who experience this loss of identity when undergoing major transitions.  The many women could be other women or other parts of myself.  As it turned out, I ended up making many changes which totally changed my waking life identity as well.  I left my career in IT consulting, moved to Hawaii, and became a writer, educator and life coach.


1 Comments on Working with Dream Themes: The Loss of Identity, last added: 8/6/2014
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20698. Lisa Scottoline: Bonus WD Interview Outtakes

An award-winning suspense series set in an all-female law firm. A library of bestselling book club picks. A humor column in the tradition of Erma Bombeck. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Lisa Scottoline is not your average lawyer-turned-author.

Lisa Scottoline doesn’t like labels. But she does classify herself as a People Person—and about 30 seconds into any conversation with her, it’s easy to see why. Just as the bestseller’s 22 novels are cross-shelved as Crime Fiction, Legal Thrillers and Women’s Fiction, she herself could be cross-categorized as both a Readers Person and a Writers Person. She opens her home to hundreds of book club members every year; she has served as president of the Mystery Writers of America; she exudes gratitude for her success, having begun her keynote at this year’s 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop by calling thank you “the two most important words in the English language.” All of which is to say that if she isn’t already one of your favorite authors, she probably will be if you ever meet her.

It didn’t take long after her 1993 debut, Everywhere That Mary Went, for Scottoline to be dubbed “the female John Grisham,” as the lawyer-turned-author made her own name writing a series of legal thrillers centered on an all-female law firm, Rosato & Associates. (The 13th installment, Betrayed, is due out this November.) Yet as she has expanded her body of work to include stand-alone bestsellers—most recently, her April release Keep Quiet, about a suburban father who makes a split-second decision to leave the scene of a fatal hit-and-run after letting his teenage son take the wheel—her books have become known above all for their emotionality and real, down-to-earth characters (yes, even the lawyers!) facing moral and ethical questions.

The quick-witted author also pens a Philadelphia Inquirer humor column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella. Their essays have been collected in several books, the latest of which, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, hit shelves in July.

If you’re keeping track, that’s three new books out this year alone—a pace she has no intention of slowing. Her work ethic is a product of a writing career that began when she was an in-debt, newly divorced mom struggling to provide for the infant Francesca. Scottoline has won awards ranging from the Edgar for excellence in crime fiction to the Fun Fearless Female title from Cosmopolitan. She studied under Philip Roth at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated magna cum laude in three years with a concentration in Contemporary American Fiction before going on to law school at her alma mater, where in recent years she developed and taught a course called “Justice and Fiction.” She has 25 million books in print, in more than 30 countries.

I first met Scottoline at ThrillerFest several years ago, where she told a riveted audience that with her writing, she still follows a rule she learned in law school: “Milk the facts.” The facts of your story, she says, will yield incredible possibilities if you let them.

The full WD Interview with Lisa Scottoline appears in the October 2014 Writer’s Digest. In these online exclusive outtakes, she talks more about “Justice and Fiction,” the emotion that drives her writing, the importance of connecting with readers and her best advice to writers everywhere.

You’ve developed and taught a course called “Justice and Fiction” at The University of Pennsylvania Law School. What a testament to the power of fiction—I’ve heard of people teaching law to fiction writers, but never the other way around. If our readers were to enroll in that class, what would be the most important thing they’d learn?
That’s true, that’s true. They would learn that fiction about justice changes with a number of factors, like: the law at the time, the politics at the time, and the social morays at the time. What I did was I started to look at, why was The Godfather so popular, or why was To Kill a Mockingbird so popular? The Godfather in particular, because it’s more recent, and it’s not looked at as much as a book like To Kill a Mockingbird. But The Godfather comes in time after the upheaval of the ’60s—so there’s a social revolution, then the Vietnam War and Watergate. All of a sudden, the government lies to you, the politicians are crooks, the attorney general went to jail, I mean, it’s kind of incredible… And when you have that environment, where there’s a total topsy-turvy in politics, in law, in society, then you understand completely why The Godfather is going to be the bestselling post-war book trilogy ever. Right? Because in The Godfather, the protagonist goes from honest war hero and ascends to power through corruption. And it’s so topsy-turvy—the cops are the crooks; you’re rooting for the Corleone family.

You know, people say that I’m a crime writer. You’re always writing at a point in time, and none of us think that we’re a category. In truth, I don’t think I’m writing about crime. I’m writing about people, and secondly I’m writing about justice. So when I developed the course, it really helped me understand my stuff better. It’s really good, I think, for people who are writing to see their work in context. And that’s what the course was about. It’s almost like a cultural history of the U.S. with respect to fiction.

Maybe this is just my own bias as a parent, but many of your stand-alone stories seem to focus on a parent’s worst nightmare. You’re so good at drawing on the fears and insecurities that we all share—

That sounds bad, doesn’t it? But thank you!

Does your process start with a fear?
I start with an emotion. Like the emotion [that triggered the idea for my novel] Look Again was, my daughter was growing up, and I’m going to have to let her go.

When I started writing a long time ago, I really wanted to see more women protagonists in crime fiction. I was a woman lawyer, and I’m a crazy reader, read everything, and I was so tired of reading only about men lawyers.

My focus a little bit was on the domestic detail—I didn’t think of it then, but now I see it—partly from being so involved with my daughter. We write at home, so raising my daughter was very much integrated into my [writing] life. And I really felt, and I kind of secretly still feel, that domestic life gets devalued. You know, we give a lot of lip service to parenting, and motherhood, and fatherhood, but we don’t really think it. If we really thought it, we’d do a lot of things differently in our culture. And we don’t.

So I wanted to elevate that stuff. Because even though I got published and eventually started to do better and better, the thing you secretly care the most about is who’s across the breakfast table from you, and that’s the stuff that affects you [and what you write].

If you really feel emotionally what you’re writing about, it really communicates, it connects. But it connects only if it’s true. And that’s why books are great.

A lot of writers don’t like to talk about branding, but you’ve talked about changing tact with your writing, and I think your publishers did with your marketing, too. Your early books looked very much like what you would expect a thriller to look like. Now, your books look more character driven.
You’re right, and you’re right to notice it, and I think it’s important to talk about. Everybody has to think about it, whether you’re self-published or published by legacy publishers. I think that stuff really matters. It was a change when I changed publishers, and you know, we still work on the covers. We’ve talked about, should the April stand-alones look different than [the Rosato series books]? I have a wonderful editor in Jen Enderlin [at St. Martin’s Press], and she said, you know what, these distinctions we’re making are not really meaningful ones. People are coming to you for a family story and a crime story. Whether one is the plot or the subplot—lawyers say it’s a “distinction without a difference.” So I think Rosato is going to start to look more like the stand-alones, because to me, that resonates. I’m writing stories about people. They’re character driven, and they always will be. I think character and voice and plot are all the same thing. It is about branding, and it helps the book find its audience—conversely, it also makes sure you put a book in somebody’s hands and it’s what they expect. …

I’ve been very lucky to be very involved. They listen to me, but I think they know a lot—I think a lot of times they know better. But they’re a great publisher in that they are open enough to go, “Hey, what do you think about this?” And it does matter, because it’s not a fun feeling to have a book out there that somehow you can’t relate to. I think everything matters with a book, and I try so hard to get these books read, and so I’m very happy to be involved in those parts. I’m involved in the flap copy, I get the blurbs, and I’m happy to do that too, I feel lucky. And it seems like it’s really working.

I saw an interview where Francesca said the most valuable thing you taught her was to give herself permission to take her writing seriously—to take herself seriously. Why do you think that is so hard for us, and so important for us to overcome?
It really is hard, and there are a million reasons. The first reason is really self-doubt. And the problem is that it’s a solitary activity. I love my job, but the only aspect of it I don’t like is that you’re so alone. And the world doesn’t really support that. The world wants you to answer the door, answer the phone, text back, write back, answer the email.

Part of the reason I go to [the Book Expo America industry event every year] is to see an agent who rejected me, because his rejection was so mean. He said, “We don’t have any time to take any more authors, and if we did, we wouldn’t take you.” The world is really tough on people who want to be writers, and there’s precious little support for it. And if you’re a good person, and most people are, and if you’re an adult, you have a lot of responsibilities. And we are so good that we put them first, and we lose ourselves. And I think it’s a little bit about [being] an adult who has a dream. Like, little kids, when you go, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” you think that when you’re 30, you should have answered that question and you should be it already. But that’s really not fair. In my case, it didn’t work out. I was a lawyer, and when I got divorced and my daughter was born, I wanted to be something else. You have to nurture this little dream.

I visualize it as a candle. You’re the person walking around in the dark scary house, and you have the candle in the little dish, and you have to protect it with your hand. And the candle is your wish to be a writer. It can blow out very easily. And the world is not going to help you hold the candle. You never see a movie where somebody protects your candle—it’s not going to happen! And it’s so important, I feel it so strongly. I feel it everyday myself.

You’ve got to protect the candle. You’ve got to go, “No, I can’t come into work on the weekends, because the weekend is when I work on my novel.” Or, “Yes, I need to take vacation, because on the vacation I’m actually going to try to write.” People deserve those dreams, and they deserve to follow them through, and they have to fight for them. I’ve heard people say protect the work, but I think of it as a candle, because it’s so fragile. And you don’t want to be at the end of your life, or even a year later, and go, “Oh, I met all the obligations that all the people had for me.”

You have to have hope as an unpublished author. You have to believe that it actually can happen, and nobody tells you that. Yes, it can happen! I had five years of rejection. I had the worst rejection letter ever. But it happened to me. And I didn’t get the big book contract to start with. I was in horrible debt, and I built it up over 20 years. So it happened to me, it can happen to you. But you have to protect the candle. You have to give yourself permission, say to yourself, I’m not foolish for wanting this.

I feel very much like I stand in the shoes of a lot of people who are starting to write. Even though I have a career now, I think all writers have to fight the same fight. I haven’t really gotten started yet today, and at some point around 4:00 I’m going to make a pot of coffee, and I have to write 2,000 words today, no matter what. That’s my discipline, and that’s me protecting the work. Luckily I have the whole day to do it and I even have the whole night, and I know it will get done. That’s the discipline of this job.


If you enjoyed these outtakes with bestselling novelist Lisa Scottoline, be sure to check out the feature-length interview—full of valuable insights about pulling off plot twists, changing directions with your writing, and much more—in the October 2014 Writer’s Digest.

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20699. Cartoonist Pran Dies

 If you know anything about Indian comics then the name Pran will be familiar to you.  You will also know what this means for Indian and Bangladeshi comics.  Pran was THE super star of comics and created a wealth of characters that will no doubt live on.

For those who have no idea here are two death notices published today.
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Cartoonist Pran, creator of Chacha Chaudhary, dies at 75

IndiaToday.in New Delhi
Cartoonist Pran
Pran was included in People of the year 1995 by Limca Book of Records for popularizing comics in India. (Photo: www.animationxpress.com)
Pran Kumar Sharma, creator of iconic comic book characters like Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu, is dead. He was 75, his family said Wednesday.


Better known as Pran, he was suffering from colon cancer and died at 9.30 p.m. Tuesday, his daughter-in-law Jyoti Pran said.


"His condition was extremely critical in the last 15-20 days and was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Gurgaon," she said.


His cremation will take place in Punjabi Bagh at 2.30 p.m.

He is survived by his wife Asha, son Nikhil Pran and daughter Shaily Pran.

Pran is also the creator of other characters like Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman, and Chachi.

Born in Kasur near Lahore, he began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for a Delhi-based newspaper. He had created the character of Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine "Lotpot".

He had also received a Lifetime Achievement Award 2001 from Indian Institute of Cartoonists and he was included in list of "People of the year 1995" by Limca Book of Records for popularising comics in India.


And FirstPost.com:

Cartoonist Pran, the creator of the iconic Indian comic book character Chacha Chaudhary, died today in New Delhi. He was 75 years old.


Pran Kumar Sharma, according the website www.chachachaudhary.com, was the first Indian artist-writer to come up with comic books whose protagonists were characters rooted deep in Indian rural and middle class ethos. His most popular creation was of course Chacha Chaudhary, a short, frail-looking man in a huge red pagdi, who fought everyone from thugs to pretty crooks with elan. He had for company a giant man called Saboo, apparently from Jupiter.


Chacha Chaudhary, created in 1971, was a landmark work given how it fused sci-fi, filmy action and Indian middle class oddities, to offer a wholesome entertainer for people across ages.


Pran was born in Kasur near Lahore, in undivided India. He completed his bachelors degree in political science from Gwalior. He then went on to study art in the JJ School of Art in Mumbai, but left the course midway.

He began working as a cartoonist in 1960 in Indian dailies.

Pran's body of work includes other comics like Billoo, Pinki, Raman, Shrimatiji. He later created a separate series of comics on Saboo, Chacha Chaudhary's assistant.

All his characters had one thing in common. They were superheroes in their own small ways - while Billoo was an insufferably naughty boy, he was extremely sharp and could wriggle out of any soup he was in. Pinki, another of Pran's character, was again a small girl, who was extremely brave and ready to take up challenges. Chaudhary, famously, was said to have a brain 'which worked faster than a computer'.

Pran's superheroes were complete antithetical to the construct of the superhero popularised by say a Marvel Comics in the West. Most of Pran's characters did not possess any super-powers - they were average humans who used their brains well. Chaudhary's superheroes, essentially, were ideal human beings and looked and sounded like any of us. No wonder then, they were household names and were loved by generations of comic book lovers in India.

Later, several of Pran's works were animated, turned into cartoon films etc. However, his works still draw sustenance from the comic book format and is hugely popular among the middle classes.

The Chacha Chaudhary website says about Pran, "He travelled widely over the globe including countries like America, England, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, China, S.Korea etc he delivered speeches to the gatherings of cartoonists on the subject wherever he went."

Pran, the website quotes, had said, "If I could put a smile on the face of people, I would consider my life successful."

Chances are he will continue being a success, long after he is gone.
Tempus fugit

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20700. my ghosts, my river—all together now (upcoming talk at the Community Garden Club of Wayne)

A few weeks ago, Peter Murphy, who presides over the Community Garden Club at Wayne, invited me to come and speak about those ghosts of mine—the Chanticleer memoir (Ghosts in the Garden) and the Chanticleer young adult novel (Nothing but Ghosts). After a brief flurry of emails we settled on the topic above—Garden Ghosts and River Voices—a talk I'm writing now and am eager to give.

This first-of-the-year program (September 4, 2014) is open to both the Garden Club and to anyone who wants to come. Copies of books will be on hand. For more on the Community Garden Club at Wayne, go here.

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