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Viewing: Blog Posts from All 1540 Blogs, since 4/24/2008 [Help]
Results 20,676 - 20,700 of 446,477
20676. Is This Death Not Dramatic Enough?

Question: I have a character in my story named Shemar, who is the main character's idol (for lack of a better word at the moment) and by the ninth chapter

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20677. First piece finished in the new studio! I’m feeling...

First piece finished in the new studio!

I’m feeling grateful and happy to have finished my first illustration in over 4 months. Moving into the new studio space has been such a wonderful experience. Even though I am still working out the details of what goes where, I am finding a great sense of relief as I complete this first piece of work.

So watch this space as I start to turn these rusty wheels wheels one more time.

via Tumblr http://studiobowesart.tumblr.com/post/59534361858

0 Comments on First piece finished in the new studio! I’m feeling... as of 9/5/2013 6:15:00 PM
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20678. Review: Secrets at Sea

Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck

The Hudson Rvier Valley circa Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee is home to the stately Cranston family. Of course, there’s really two Crantson families: the Upstairs Cranstons and the Downstairs Cranstons. If you’re into a certain popular BBC historical drama on TV recently like I am *cough* Downton Abbey *cough*, you may be expecting the Downstairs Cranstons to be servants. But they’re not. They’re actually mice. And they would like to point out theirs is the older Cranston family.

Helena is the oldest mouse, and since her mother, father, and two older sisters have since passed on (it’s a dangerous life being a mouse!) she has the responsibility of worrying about and taking care of her two younger sisters, Louise and Beatrice, and younger brother, Lamont. So when the Upstairs Cranstons decide to leave their home and take of tour of Europe in order to give their eldest daughter Olive “her chance” (to catch a husband), Helena decides that rather than face and empty house and starvation, the Downstairs Cranstons will just have accompany their humans across the ocean. Even though mice aren’t good with water. The resulting voyage is full of strange new experiences, intrigues, dangerous situations (cats!), brushes with royalty, and maybe even a little romance.

I have to say, I’ve almost never met a Richard Peck book I didn’t like. In fact, I can only think of 2 that I didn’t enjoy thoroughly, and they were both fine books, just not for me. And that’s okay. Luckily, Secrets at Sea can easily fit the category of “thoroughly enjoyed”.

I suppose it bears mentioning that the whole book itself is quite silly. This is definitely a “suspension of disbelief” book. However, I think for the middle grade audience it’s aiming for, this isn’t necessarily a problem. As a (young) adult reading this book, I personally didn’t have any problem with it. But I’m pretty gullible that way. I’ve seen reviews that have beaten this one up a bit for this very reason, because it seems little too unlikely and the plot is fairly simplistic. But I think if you go into expecting it to be silly, you won’t have a problem with it. So the moral of the story is: don’t take your reading too seriously!

The book is narrated by Helena, and as the oldest, she does come off as bossy quite a bit. However, being the oldest (and pretty bossy) myself, I found myself relating to Helena quite a lot. She’s simply concerned with how she can keep her dwindling family together, which is something I’ve worried about myself before. So although some might find her unlikeable, I enjoyed Helena quite a bit.

The other nice thing about this book is that I think it has appeal for a wide audience. Yes, it has some romance (think along the lines of “we love each other and now we’re getting married!”), but not enough to necessarily turn off the young male reader. It is historical fiction, but isn’t heavy enough in historical detail to turn off readers who shy away from history. And I think it is a book that all ages can enjoy, especially its target middle grade audience.

I really did enjoy Secrets at Sea, it was a short, quick read, and I am still putting Richard Peck at the top of my favorite authors list. According to Goodreads it appears he has another mouse book that’s been recently published, The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail, which I will have to pick up and try soon.

Shady Glade Rating: 8/10

Available at Amazon.com in Hardcover, Paperback, or Kindle
Add to your Goodreads shelf
Check availability on Paperbackswap.com

1 Comments on Review: Secrets at Sea, last added: 9/5/2013
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20679. Kidlit Author Events August 27-September 2

WordPress is being difficult today, so quickly, before it crashes again, here’s what happening this week:

August 28, Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.SCBWI Logo
SCBWI-Brazos Valley
Schmooze: Picture Book Discussion

Writing a picture book? Join the SCBWI-Brazos Valley for their August Schmooze. Picture Book Potpourri is the topic!
Stay for lunch if you have the time. Gentle critique begins at 9:30 a.m. Bring 5 copies of 5 double-spaced pages of a work in progress to share.

August 29, Thursday, 7:00 p.m.Crown of Midnight
Blue Willow Bookshop
Sarah J. Maas, YA Author

Sarah J. Maas will discuss and sign her new novel, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king’s contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown—a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.Keeping up the deadly charad—while pretending to do the king’s bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she’s given a task that could jeopardize everything she’s come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon—forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice. Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she willing to fight for?


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20680. Plot problem

Question: So I am writing this story of this girl in the 1800's who has magical visions into the future and her family thinks she is crazy, so they put

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20681. Video: J. K. Rowling Reveals Which Harry Potter Character She Misses the Most

In honor of the 15th anniversary of Harry Potter (and the release of the new editions' book covers today), Scholastic released a video where J. K. Rowling reveals which Harry Potter character she misses the most. You can watch the video here or below.

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20682. Being Faculty - SCBWI LA Conference 2013

Opening Ceremony at SCBWI LA Conference 2013. Over 1200 in attendance!
August is almost over and its been a few weeks since I've returned from the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. Yet I still can't find the words to describe what my experience was like there.

I received an email a few months ago from Cecilia Yung, art director from Penguin Young Readers Group and also on the SCBWI Board of Advisors.  She asked me if I would like to speak at the conference. I was floored. Excited, yes, but me? But when she told me they were doing a panel on books for toddlers in the illustrators intensive, I knew I had ALOT to talk about regarding this subject. I've been working years as an illustrator now, and have always been in learning mode. Now in almost a blink of an eye, I was on the other side, with much info to share with others. How did this happen?

I also got to run two breakout sessions; one on anthropomorphic character design and one on creating novelty books. I appreciate all the people that came! One's nightmare is to having no one show up. In one session, we had to turn people away because the room was at capacity!

The best part was to meet in person, all the talented illustrators I've come to known online for years. I felt right at home. I know this is my tribe. Alot of them knew I was nervous about my talks. Thank you for your support. It was SO nice to see a friendly and familiar face in the audience as I spoke.

My rep, Mela Bolinao, also was on the faculty this year. I haven't seen her in person for literally years, so it was so nice to get some face time (we communicate mostly by email). Funny how it is in this conference and in LA of all places that we got the opportunity to meet up.

The Black and White Gala. Dancing under the night sky with children's book peeps.

Oh and all the fun little things! Dancing under the night sky with all children's publishing folks. The book signing (and people wanting to take a picture with me. I'm very, very flattered!)

I don't know how the stars aligned for me this year that I was given this opportunity and I'm truly grateful. I can't describe what an incredible and amazing time I had.  From the conference I did learn that everyone in this industry work so hard to get to where they are at and where they want to be. They all are so passionate about children's books. There are still so many things I want to do and I will be working harder myself. Thank you everyone at SCBWI for having me!

5 Comments on Being Faculty - SCBWI LA Conference 2013, last added: 9/12/2013
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20683. A New Library Approach - Connecting Public and School Library

Chicago’s New Public/School Library Hybrid Opens Doors

0 Comments on A New Library Approach - Connecting Public and School Library as of 9/6/2013 2:17:00 AM
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20684. Plot development

Question: I'm a beginning writer but I don't have any formal writing skills. I've got an idea for a story about a man who is a loser in most respects,

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20685. What to Say to a Dying Man

Hemingway & GellhornHemingway and Gellhorn are American war correspondents dodging bullets in the Spanish Civil War. 

Ernest Hemingway rushes to tend a fallen soldier, to speak to him as he dies.  We can’t hear what he is saying but whatever it is, it’s urgent.

The scene is shot from Martha Gellhorn’s point of view.  Seeing how passionately Ernest Hemingway attends this young man who is disappearing into his final abyss, Gellhorn begins to fall in love with Hemingway.  Neither does she know what Hem is saying, nor does it matter to her. 

But I’m curious.  What do you say to a dying man? 

I turn to my wife and say, “Mark my words, whatever Hemingway is saying, that’s what the film is about.”  This is the screenwriter establishing the ‘central question’ of the film.  Meaning!  We’re all in search of meaning in this crazy world, and here’s Hemingway helping this poor soul come to terms with annihilation. 

This nothingness may be our most precious possession, since it opens to us the inexhaustible world that exists beyond ourselves.” ~ British novelist John Gray

But the soldier is quickly losing consciousness.  He may miss his one chance to experience the glorious disillusionment of the physical form melting away.  He’s a heartbeat away from seeing existence as it is.  If only Hemingway can keep the kid’s eyes open… 

“One’s destination is never a place…but a new way of seeing things.”  ~ Henry Miller

That this patriot may fail to attain this pinnacle is an injustice that Hemingway can’t seem to abide.  That’s what it looks like to me.  Look how desperately he encourages that poor bastard up the mountain. 

The scene ends leaving us wondering what was said.  Excellent.  The rest of the script must serve to shed light on this tremendously powerful moment.  I’m sure of it. 

I mean, if Hemingway’s unheard speech is not “what the story is about,” why has he been directed to act as if this were a life-and-death situation as much for himself?

I also want to find out how Hemingway came by the spiritual self-confidence to try to save this young man’s soul.  I didn’t know that about Hemingway.  Is it true?  Frankly, I don’t much care if it’s true or not, because the scene is true.  The scene depicts the opportunity that becomes available at the brink of a personal abyss. 

As audience, this is my source of nourishment—the vicarious experience of passing through loss.  Through it!  Not caught in its gravity field. 

“In this high place, it is as simple as this—leave everything you know behind.”  ~ poet David Whyte

Is this what Hemingway is telling the kid? 

Leaving our old belief systems behind, we earn the moral authority to bring our life (or any story) to its completion.  It’s never too late!  Hemingway knows it’s never too late.  In fact, he must realize what an opportunity this crisis presents…

“Desperation is the raw material of drastic change.  Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.”  ~ William S. Burroughs

Is that what Hemingway is saying? 

Well, you can see how this film ignited my imagination.

Alas, the HBO film Hemingway and Gellhorn forgets entirely about Hemingway in the trenches, never makes reference to this death scene.  Such is the way with big, sexy, exotic, but mediocre movies.

But the student of fiction is always a step ahead of the writer, always making more of the story than what the director may have intended.  For me, consuming novels and films is a sport in which I mine the story for meaning at every turn.  

It’s not that hard.  Fictional characters desire, struggle, fail hopelessly, and then (hopefully) awaken from their narcissism.  Aspects of their higher nature are now their new reality.

Keep a special eye out for anyone speaking to a dying man.

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20686. A Toast to the King

Jack Kirby’s 96th Birthday Remembered

Hi Folks,

Time once again for my annual request from me asking you all to raise a glass to the Heavens, to wish the King of comic books, Jack “King” Kirby a Happy 96th Birthday.

And what better way to celebrate the man than to look at a piece of his magnificent artwork.

Jack - Conan - Elric - Three of my favourite heroes!!!
Also take a look at the official website: Jack Kirby Museum

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
August 28th 2013

4 Comments on A Toast to the King, last added: 9/4/2013
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20687. SCARS audiobook now available for pre-order!

SCARS audiobook is now available for pre-order! It releases Sept 1st–a month before STAINED releases. The SCARS audiobook is read by Emily Bauer. It’s a different cover than the original book, but it’s still the same book on the inside. :)

I’m looking forward to hearing how Emily reads it. I love being read to–to me it’s a treat, especially when the reader speaks with the emotion of the book and the characters.

How about you? Do you like being read to? Do you enjoy audiobooks? Or does it change how you hear a book?

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20688. How to Increase Your Followers on Twitter–and Why Writers Should!

Summer is over–well, the relaxed version of summe […]

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20689. Middle grade or YA?

Putting aside instances of violence, sex, and spicy language, I’ve often found myself debating the placement of particular books and where they fall on the middle grade-young adult spectrum. Back in my children’s lit course in library school, we learned that the real dividing line was hope (or the lack thereof.) Children’s literature, no matter how dark or dangerous the journey, must eventually end with a healthy dose of hope, whereas YA works could feature ambiguity, uncertainty, and, well, disappointment. To qualify as a bone-fide children’s book, wrongs must be set right, evil must be punished, good must be rewarded. Children need to be reassured, goes the conventional wisdom, that at the end of the day the world is a fair, safe place and that their dinner will still be hot.

If you think about middle grade literature, there are very few examples of books that end without even a small glimmer of hope. Even profoundly sad books like Bridge to Terabithia, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Old Yeller offer the reader the opportunity to see beauty, growth, and hope for a better tomorrow- even in the face of death.

Can you imagine a world in which Max leaves the island after his wild rumpus, sets sail onto a dark and tumultuous sea to journey back home and….. FIN? Curtains close. Good night, everybody! Don’t we all need Max to return home to his bedroom and find that plate warm and waiting?

But does the conventional wisdom still hold true? I’m seeing many more titles that blur the dividing line between middle grade and YA. These crossover titles may feature younger characters but include heavier, darker themes. Is a “glimmer of hope” still the best criteria by which we judge whether a book falls into children’s or teen territory? What makes a book jump the line into YA land for you?

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20690. A Chain of Evidence

The time has probably come for me to face the facts: Carolyn Wells was not a good mystery novelist. I mean, nothing can take away from my love for Vicky Van, but it’s the exception, not the rule. The rule is a book where, when you’re told that a young woman has a domineering husband or relative, you know who the murder victim is going to be. The rule has a massively annoying narrator who is usually a lawyer, even more usually in love with the woman freed by the murder, and absolutely always an idiot.

A Chain of Evidence has perhaps the most stupid narrator of all, a lawyer named Otis Landon who has just moved into an apartment across the hall from the one occupied by Janet Pembroke, her bedridden uncle Robert, and their maid, Charlotte. Robert Pembroke is the inevitable murder victim, and he’s found stabbed in the back of the neck with a pin one morning. The catch is that the murder happened at night, after the security chain on the door was on, so no one should have been able to get in without breaking the chain.

Landon is in the middle of falling in love with Janet at first sight (a process which, with him, apparently takes several weeks) so of course she can’t be the murderer. And Charlotte is assumed by everyone to be a moron, although mostly they seemed to be basing that assumption on the fact that she’s black. Also a big pile of cash is missing. It’s a good setup, I guess, but I know how Carolyn Wells deals with locked room mysteries — secret passages and acrobats — so I had pretty low expectations.

I don’t even know how low my expectations would have had to be to prepare me for Otis Landon. There’s a way in which his thought processes could be considered incredibly realistic: he constantly changes his mind about things without acknowledging it, or observes things and draws a conclusion exactly opposite to the truth for no apparent reason. Also he thinks he’s a lot smarter than he actually is. Much as I’d like to, though, I can’t find any indication that Wells means for the reader to take him at anything but face value. He has to be willfully stupid for story to drag out to novel length, and so he is — but I don’t even know if Wells even realized that that was what she was doing.

To sum up, if you’re reading a Carolyn Wells mystery and you get excited about Fleming Stone being called in, the book you’re reading is kind of lousy. I’m not necessarily going to stop reading Wells’ mysteries — every once in a while they are fun, and my fondness for her isn’t terribly rational anyway — but this is the point where I stop having any expectations. This book was awful, and I knew at every step exactly how awful it was going to continue to be, and in what ways. I’d keep complaining, but I got what I deserved.

Tagged: 1910s, carolynwells, mystery

2 Comments on A Chain of Evidence, last added: 9/6/2013
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vfaz cover

A new children’s book by Artie will be out in late September!!!

View from a Zoo – Thea is a house-cat that seems to have it all… she has a warm home, plenty of food and a family that loves her. But something is missing in Thea’s life. Where is the excitement? Where is the adventure?

From children’s author Artie Knapp & illustrator Sunayana Nair Kanjilal, comes a new picture book that answers the question that kids everywhere like to ask… I am bored. What should I do?


To read early reviews of the book, please click on the book’s cover above. Published by MightyBook Inc, Houston, TX.

More updates to come soon!!!

The North Carolina Press Foundation is offering four of Artie’s serial stories to Newspapers in Education (NIE) newspapers across the United States. This year’s theme is Dig into Reading. In addition to the NIE, the foundation will also be offering Artie’s work to libraries and other newspapers throughout the United States. To read the stories please click on the NC Press Foundation link listed above.

A new short story by Artie was published this month titled Summer at the Drive-in. To read the story on the Teachers.net Gazette, please click on the image below.

Drive-in image


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

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20692. Need a Picture Book Critique Group? September is Matchmaking Month!

Periodically I hear from former students who are wondering how to find critique partners. Often, they've tried SCBWI but found there's a long waiting list. Or they were in a critique group that formed out of one of my classes but it faded over time or never got off the ground. And so they're all alone.

"I remember you well talking about the need as a writer for connection with other writers," a former student wrote me recently. "I just don't have it, and have been discouraged enough to consider giving up altogether."

If you've taken one of my classes, you've heard me say it: a critique group is the single most important thing you can do for your career as a writer. In addition to the feedback you'll get on your work, a critique group gives you a community, helps you stay motivated, and provides you with deadlines and expectations.I myself am in three different critique groups, each of which is focused on a different genre. These groups both kick my butt and soothe my soul and I would be a much poorer -- not to mention lonelier -- writer without them. Critique groups don't need to be big -- even a single critique partner can do the trick. 

But how do you find them?

I've pondered the way to match people up for some time and in the end decided to borrow an idea from Maggie Stiefvater, who matchmakes critique groups for YA writers once a year. The method is simple. If you are interested in forming a critique partnership, post your Want Ad in the comment section below. Here's the information you should include:

  • A one sentence description of who you are and what you're working on.
  • A geographic location (because your online critique group could be an in-person critique group).
  • Three picture books that you love or that have influenced you as a writer.
  • A way for an interested critique partner to get in touch with you.

If you see someone who seems like a good match, contact them. If the interest is mutual, then you should each send the other a picture book manuscript to be critiqued. That is your trial run. If you're happy with how it went, you've got a partner. If anything about the exchange didn't work for you, then the trial period is over and you can simply thank your partner and walk away.

Oh, and make sure to check out my information about How To Form An Online Critique Group.

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20693. Artist of the Day: Philip Vose

Philip Vose

Philip Vose is a graduate of the CalArts animation program and lives in the Bay Area working as a freelance animation artist.

Philip Vose

Philip Vose

Philip has recently worked as a freelance location designer and background painter for the Disney Channel series Gravity Falls. In the personal work that he posts on his blog, Philip is able to explore grittier subject matter than what is allowed by children’s television work.

Philip Vose

Philip Vose

You can find Philip’s personal work on his blog and portfolio site, and his collection of videos including several short cartoons on Vimeo.

Philip Vose

Philip Vose

0 Comments on Artist of the Day: Philip Vose as of 8/27/2013 10:14:00 PM
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20694. Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergent*Young adult dystopian fantasy
*16-year-old girl as the main character
*Rating: I love this book. I can barely put it down, and I can’t wait to buy book 2. I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games, too. I don’t know which I feel is better.

Short, short summary:

I apologize for copying and pasting the description from a book website, but as you will see from my post with THE LIT LADIES, I am beat! From Indiebound.org: “In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.”

Buy Divergent!

So, what do I do with this book?

1. The paperback version of this book includes 50 pages of bonus material: including a sneak peek of Insurgent, an author Q&A, a discussion guide, a Divergent playlist, faction manifestos, and more! So, use this to lead some discussions with students/book clubs after the book has been read.

2. So many journal writing prompts/discussions come to mind when I am reading this book: what would you have done if you were Beatrice? Which would you choose? Which faction would you value the most? Why do you think these are the 5 factions and these five? For students in Chicago, what do you recognize in the book that exists today?

3. Veronica Roth is an excellent writer. She does put some clues in there about what may happen, and this can help with prediction skills and comprehension skills. Can readers predict “the master plan” before Tris catches on? Can they predict Tris’s mom’s secret? How about Four’s? What are the clues Veronica puts in the book?

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20695. What Happens When You Hate One of Your Own Characters

With the release of Stalked by Death this month, I feel like I need to talk about hating characters. When I read books, I love to hate characters because any emotion—good or bad—is good. It makes you connect to the characters and the story. But when I wrote Stalked by Death, I hated one of my characters in a way I've never hated a character before. It was odd for me because...well, I created him. 

I'm talking about Chase. Why am I dropping this bomb here when some of you haven't read the book yet and might want to? Simple. People read my blurb and assume there's a love triangle. In my mind, it's not a love triangle at all. Why? I HATE Chase. He's everything I despise in a human being. If you read the book, you'll see what I mean. I don't want to be too spoilery here.

So why did I create a character I absolutely can't stand? Mostly because people like Chase exist in the world. He's real. His motives are real. And the emotions he evokes are real too. I've had a few reviewers say they felt so many emotions while reading this book, and that's a huge compliment in my mind. I cried and got so creeped out while writing this story, and most of that was because of Chase. He made me tap into emotions I never wanted to visit again. And while I will continue to hate him, I'm thankful that I wrote him.

Have you ever hated a character you created? What made you write them that way?

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20696. Listening for Lucca, by Suzanne LaFleur, for Timeslip Tuesday

Listening for Lucca, by Suzanne LaFleur (Wendy Lamb Books, August  2013, middle grade), is a gentle sort of time slip book with a very intriguing premise.

The story begins with Sienna's family moving from Brooklyn to an old Victorian house on the coast of Maine.  Sienna doesn't mind--she welcomes the chance for a fresh start with kids who don't think she's weird (she sees things no one else can, and gathers old, abandoned things to care for).  But the move is mostly for her brother's benefit-- the family hopes that the change will give three-year-old  Lucca the change he needs to start to talk again after a year of silence. 

In the closet of her new room, Sienna finds a pen, left there years ago, and when she writes with it, another girl's words come out on the pages.  Sarah lived in the house during World War II...and through the journal entries that come from the pen, Sienna learns about her life, and how, when her brother, Joshua, went of to fight, Sarah stopped talking.  

Sienna in the present is given the chance to make friends with kids her own age...who might prove to be real friends if they aren't scared off by her strangeness...and all the while she works hard to be a good sister to Lucca, trying to stave off the desperate worry that his silence is all her fault.

And all the while her worry about Sarah grows, as the pen writes the story of Sarah's life.  To help Sarah, and maybe her brother Lucca, speak again, Sienna must do more than allow the pen to write the past.  She must go back herself, and help Joshua, a wretched shell of himself after the horrors of war, tell Sarah what she needs to hear so that she can speak.

It was a good, engrossing read, with a captivating storyline.   I feel I should have loved it--nice time travel, nice characters, nice place--yet it didn't quite make it into my heart.  I'm never entirely sure why this happens with books, but I've come up with a few possible reasons for this one.

I'm a very visual reader, and I love books that make pictures in my mind.  Drafting this review in my head, it occurred to me that I had left the story with no mental image of the house at all.   I love "moving into old house" books, and reading all the minuscule details of nooks and crannies and old cupboards...but this house is simply described as "an old Victorian," and that's pretty much it.  So that was disappointing.  This isn't the book's fault; it's me as a reader.

Sarah's story back in the past was much  more emotionally gripping than Sienna's present--making new friends actually goes very well for Sienna, despite the fact that she is rather passive about it, whereas Sarah is caught in a situation of serious emotional blackmail that pulled at my heart-strings.    Sienna takes a pretty passive approach to the historical mystery as well; she does undertake a bit of historical detective work, but mostly she just lets the timeslip pen do most of the work of finding out about the past.   And the pen isn't made special enough--it is just a handy plot device of little emotional zing.

Finally, I just couldn't be satisfied with the easy resolution to Lucca's mutism, even though it makes sense in the context of the fantastical elements of the story; it was a problem too easily solved, and not sufficiently explained, for me to accept it.

So no, it wasn't one I loved, but it was one I enjoyed and read pretty much in a single sitting.  So if a somewhat gently-paced timeslip focusing on characters past and present sounds appealing, do try it.  You might love it; Publishers Weekly did, and gave it a starred review.

2 Comments on Listening for Lucca, by Suzanne LaFleur, for Timeslip Tuesday, last added: 9/6/2013
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20697. the downside of being colorblind

My daughter and me in Chicago

My daughter and me in Chicago

During a recent trip to Chicago, my daughter and I were walking outside the Art Institute of Chicago when she observed, “English is the language I’m hearing the least here. It’s refreshing.”

Now hold that thought, and please indulge me for a minute as I hop down a rabbit trail. (I promise it’ll make sense, eventually. Well, maybe promise is too strong a word. Let’s just say I hope it will make sense.)

When I was a kid growing up on the 1960s, I was fortunate enough to attend an interracial school. Perhaps because of the heightened racial tensions we were experiencing in American culture at the time, our teachers made a point of helping us little white kids to appreciate “colored people” and even taught us negro spirituals like “Rock My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” (At the time I assumed the song referred to Abraham Lincoln!)

I recall being encouraged to understand that we are all equal and all alike inside. In my childish mind, I took that to mean, people may come in different colors, but inside we’re all the same–a white person like me. I also took it to mean that a person’s color was something I was to pretend I did not see.

Now, I’m guessing you learned better long before I did.

But as an adult I do see things–particularly people–differently. I still believe we are all equal and that as humans we share many common aspirations, insecurities and needs. But it took me longer than I’d like to admit to come around to the dangers of ignoring a person’s race, or more importantly the culture associated with it. White people like me seem particularly good at making this mistake. We act like we don’t see a person’s color or race, when of course, we do. Just like people of all races “see” others who are different from themselves. For whatever reason think this “not seeing” is a good thing, as if being Asian or white or hispanic or black is an unspeakable impediment to be tolerated or ignored. But a person’s racial heritage and color is not something to overlook like it’s a flaw; it’s something to be esteemed and celebrated.

And so, that brings me back to my daughter’s comment about finding it refreshing to be surrounded by different languages. (We live in a very homogeneous part of the Midwest, so while I was pleased about her observation, I wasn’t exactly surprised!) It made me think about the stories I’m creating for young readers her age and a bit younger. How often do I include a character who’s outside my white, middle class world? How can I help kids understand the importance of appreciating people inside and out?

How about you? Do you lean toward the familiar or do you intentionally branch out to create characters that reflect a broader worldview or culture or color? Let me encourage you to think of ways you can enrich a young reader’s world–or make it refreshing, as my daughter would say–by incorporating more diverse characters in your story.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not asking you to change a main character’s name from Pete to Pedro, and call that “diversity.” You know better than that. I’m simply suggesting that when it makes sense, or maybe even when it doesn’t initially, consider how you can build richer worlds for your readers by word-painting with all the colors.

I promise I’ll do the same.

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. ~ Henry Ford

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20698. The Silver Strand Book Blast

silver strand

The Silver Strand Ever since twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon’s silver strand of hair sprouted, it’s been nothing but trouble: bleeding pink dust and sparking like a firecracker. Refusing to be known as the girl with the freaky, grandma hair, she wishes it never grew and the hair withers and tarnishes. The only problem is, the strand is Isabelle's source of magic, and she can transform particles of energy into matter. It's also her ticket into Mastermind Academy, a secret school inside the earth’s core. Five days remain before the strand drains her magic and life, forcing Isabelle to enter into a deal with two trickster Masterminds to save it. But what she doesn't count on is there is more at stake than just her life. The Silver Strand, a MG Fantasy Adventure for 9-12 year olds, is book 1 in the Mastermind Academy Series.

Author L.J. Clarkson One thing you need to know about LJ Clarkson is that she tells BIG lies. She tells everyone that she gave up her career as an Environmental Engineer and Project Manager to write full time. But that's not entirely true. Ten percent of the time she sleeps in. Fifteen percent of her day, she spends surfing the internet, researching for new books and her business. Ok, fine. Two percent is for research. But she's only admitting it so she doesn't end up like Boldrick. For eighteen point seven five percent of her day, she runs her promotional and support site for authors, called Indicated (www.indicated.com.au). The rest of her time involves writing, reading, watching movies and TV, walking her dogs and falling asleep whenever her boyfriend talks technical computer lingo. Truthfully, she hates early mornings, mondays, grammar (yuck! just ask her poor editor!), broccoli and cleaning. If you would like to drop her and line and let her know what you think of the book, she would love to hear from you. Just not before 8:30am in the morning.
  Excerpt “Did you know Isabelle has a silver, alien antenna?” Bimouth’s voice sang out over the shouts and chatter of the school bus, capturing everyone’s attention. “In science class, a magnet flew out of Mr. Higgins’ hand and stuck to her antenna. How freaky is that?” Isabelle’s back pressed against her seat. Bianca leapt up like a jack-in-a-box. Her voice came out as a hiss. “Shut your face horse mite or I’ll shut it for you.” Looked like the bus ride might end in death. Bigmouth turned to face Bianca. “What if Isabelle’s antenna, like, turns us into alien zombies?” A chorus of whispers broke out. Catching the bus was a very bad idea. Isabelle prayed again for that black hole to open up and suck her in. Better yet, she wished it would gobble up the bigmouth. Isabelle tugged on Bianca’s arm and said in a low voice, “Just cut it off.” Her friend’s eyes softened. “You sure, Boof?” “The hair’s caused nothing but trouble since it sprouted.” The little voice inside Isabelle’s mind begged her not to, but she didn’t listen. “Ok.” Something in Bianca’s school bag rattled as she riffled through it. She yanked a pair of scissors free. Isabelle’s gut clenched as her friend laid the strand between the blades. “Wait!” She suddenly felt unsure about whether to get rid of it. What if it were special and magical like Bianca had said? A magnetic hair, although cool, was hardly magical. Isabelle decided to test it. Closing her eyes, she willed her strand to turn Bigmouth into a toad. But Bigmouth’s voice still carried throughout the bus. “And in gym class, like, she bled this weird, pink dust.” “Definitely an alien,” someone nearby agreed. So much for Isabelle’s strand being magical. “Cut it,” she said, exchanging a sideways look with Bianca. Her friend squeezed the handles together. Fuchsia-colored sparks shot out and scalded Isabelle’s right cheek. The strand sizzled and hissed like a firecracker, drawing the attention of Bigmouth. She shrieked like a real girl. “Look! Isabelle’s antenna’s on fire.”  
silver strand tour
  BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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20699. 106. You're a Star!

0 Comments on 106. You're a Star! as of 9/6/2013 2:37:00 AM
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20700. getthatlook: hairpintravel: Alternate covers, by Thyra...



Alternate covers, by Thyra Heder.

The Hairpin’s travel series, “An Experience Definitely Worth Allegedly Having,” is now available for purchase (and has been for two weeks, during which time it has verryyyy slowly been encroaching on Jon Krakauer)! It’s $1.99, and the two first episodes (of 8 total) are from the wonderful Carrie Frye and Maria Bustillos. Here are excerpts from each — Carrie | Maria — if you’d like to give them a whirl. They’re so good!

There’s also a Tumblr (linked above) with bonus media from each episode. Salacious pictures and video!!!, etc. It’s also got a few alternate covers, by the incredibly talented Thyra Heder, and they’re all beautiful, but the one above is my favorite (aside from the actual cover).

Future contributors: Jenna Wortham, Nicole Cliffe, Jim Behrle, Chiara Atik, Anne Helen Petersen, and me (Edith). 

Aaand a couple interviews vaguely about the Series, too: with Logan Sachon, on The Billfold, and with Allie Jones, on The Atlantic Wire. We also got a nice mention in The New York Times Magazine last weekend. Know anyone else who wants to chat about this? With me or anyone involved with the series? Or about anything else? Or otherwise review it, or eviscerate it, in any way at all? I’ll do basically anything; I want the whole world to know about this e-book!!

And you don’t have to have a Kindle, either — the app for desktop reading is free and easy to install. Like 60 seconds. Maybe less. 

Well, here it is again! I hope you like it!

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