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20676. Quotation of the Day

A perfect quote for book lovers and especially book bloggers.

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read. Mark Twain (1835-1910) Discuss

*Taken from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ - December 18, 2014

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20677. Social Media Etiquette

Avoid social media gaffes by using these tips. 


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20678. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Joshua W. Cotter
















Joshua W. Cotter splashed onto the small press comix scene in 2004, with his self published comic Skyscrapers of the Midwest. Cotter’s distinct “old-time-y” style of meticulously rendering his cartoons in black ink cross hatches, and little, scratchy lines hearkens to old underground comics of the 1960’s & 70’s.. His character’s are sometimes anthropomorphic, or humans with “cartoon animal” characteristics. Skyscrapers of the Midwest explores the trauma of childhood, and limitless imagination of two brothers growing up in the American Heartland .

After the collected edition hard-cover of Skyscrapers of the Midwest was published, Cotter would chronicle a difficult period of his life in his next book, Driven by Lemons, both published by AdHouse.

Today, you can follow updates of Cotter’s next comic, Nod Away, on the website, Study Group Comics. It’s a sci-fi drama/character study about a scientist working on a mysterious A.I. project up in a space station called USS Integrity. This story, and another that Cotter is currently working on will be the meat of his next book, also titled Nod Away.

You can learn more about Cotter’s process, and see more of his art on his tumblr site here.

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

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20679. Rukhsana Khan on Cross-Cultural Writing and Achieving True Diversity

This November I attended the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention in Washington, DC and was overwhelmed by the broad focus on diversity in children’s books. Though many of us have been aware of this issue for years (or even decades) it is often a topic set aside for one or two poorly-attended panels located at inconvenient times in back rooms.

Not this year.

This year, NCTE dedicated part of the conference’s Opening Session to the topic. In front of over a thousand people, a panel of authors including Rukhsana Khan, Christopher Myers, Matt de la Peña, and Mitali Perkins spoke about their experiences with diversity—and the lack thereof—in children’s book publishing. Expert Rudine Sims Bishop moderated the panel.

Panels on this topic, even those with heavy-hitters like the people mentioned above, rarely receive this kind of audience or placement. As part of the Opening Session, the panel set the tone for the whole conference, and made a major statement: we will not ignore this problem. Kudos to NCTE for making that statement, and to all of us for creating an environment this year in which such a statement was possible. Below, we have asked Rukhsana Khan to share her comments from the panel:

NCTE Opening Session Panel, from L to R: Rudine Sims Bishop, Rukhsana Khan, Matt de la Peña, Christopher Myers, Mitali Perkins

NCTE Opening Session Panel, from L to R: Rudine Sims Bishop, Rukhsana Khan, Matt de la Peña, Christopher Myers, Mitali Perkins (image provided by NCTE)

Rukhsana Khan: When I was a young girl, growing up in a small Judeo-Christian town, a friend of mine told me this joke. I don’t mean to offend anyone and in fact, I myself found it racist, but I tell it here to make a point:

Once there was a Catholic who lived in a farmhouse.

On a cold stormy night there came a knock at the door. It was a man.

He said, “Please sir, could I have shelter? I’m half frozen and very hungry.”

The owner of the farmhouse said, “Are you Catholic?”

The man said, “Yes.”

“Oh! Come on in and rest yourself there by the fire!”

A little while later another knock came at the door.

It was another man, half frozen, asking for shelter.

The owner said, “Are you Catholic?”

The man said, “Yes.”

“Oh! Come on in and rest yourself there by the fire!”

A little while later another knock came.

It was another man, half frozen.

“Are you Catholic?”

“No, I’m Protestant.”

The owner said, “Oh. Well there’s some room there on the porch. Maybe if you press yourself against the window you can get some warmth from the fire.”

Now, make no mistake. I found this joke to be very offensive, but I didn’t say anything. But to myself, I thought, “Wow. If this is how one Christian talks about another Christian, what the hell do they think of me?”

And ever since then I’ve always felt like I was out there on the porch, looking in, to a warm scene of people gathered around a fire, but the warmth doesn’t penetrate the glass of the window.

Growing up in such a community, I used books to survive.

The books I feasted on were from the library. I didn’t know you could purchase books! As immigrants we had enough problems just keeping food on the table, so there was never money for books!

And I remember reading one of the Anne of Green Gables books, one of the later ones, Anne of the Island or something and I got to a point where L. M. Montgomery refers to ‘those heathen Muhammadans,’and I couldn’t believe it!

Rukhsana Speaks with Rudine Sims Bishop

Rukhsana speaks with Rudine Sims Bishop

She was talking about me!

Couldn’t she ever have imagined that one of those ‘heathen Muhammadans’ would one day be reading one of her Anne books and identifying so much with the characters, thinking that aunt was just like so and so, and that uncle was just like this uncle of hers???

I got so mad I threw the book across the room.

And once more I felt like I was out on the porch, looking in.

We need diverse books! But what really constitutes diversity?

These days there’s an awful lot of books that pass as diverse literature, that are written by white feminists, who mean well, but I wonder how well they can really penetrate the cultural paradigms of the ethnicities they write about.

I mean how can someone from inside the cabin really comprehend what it’s like to be out there on the porch, when they’re sheltered and warm from the fire?

And think about it. When you’re in a well-lit house, looking out onto a dark porch, the windows act as mirrors. You can’t properly see outside! It’s your own world that’s reflected back at you.

And as a result many of these books just come down to plunking a white kid in an exotic setting and writing the story as they would react to it!

What kind of diversity is that?

We can’t just color the kid in the story brown or what-have-you and maintain western ways of thinking. Kids need to be exposed not to just characters of another color but also different cultural thinking and ways of problem solving.

We need to be less superficial.

Because ultimately, how can we ask children to think outside the box when they’re living so firmly within it?

Rukhsana KhanRukhsana Khan is the author of several award-winning books published in the United States and Canada including, most recently, King for a Day. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she and her family immigrated to Canada when she was three. Khan’s stories enable children of all backgrounds to connect with cultures of Eastern origins. Khan lives with her husband and family in Toronto, Canada. 

Filed under: Diversity 102, Educator Resources, Fairs/Conventions Tagged: NCTE, Rukhsana Khan, writing cross-culturally

2 Comments on Rukhsana Khan on Cross-Cultural Writing and Achieving True Diversity, last added: 12/22/2014
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20680. The Hobbit art and artists (link)

Enjoy these beautiful and fun works by various artists for The Hobbit--collected on Tor.com: 40 of the best

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20681. 5 Charities That Promote Literacy

First BookAside from buying books for holiday gifts, now is a great time of year to contribute to charity.  To help encourage giving to causes that promote literacy, we have put together a list of 5 charities that help encourage reading among people who are least likely to have access to books. For your exploration below, we’ve listed the name of the charity, their mission statement and linked to their site.

These are just a sample of charities worth considering. Many other great organizations help teach people to read, so feel free to help us grow this list by leaving your favorite charities that promote literacy in the comments section. Also check out our list from last year and from 2011.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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20682. 2015 Eisner judges announced: D’Angelo, Graham, Howe, Kirtley, McFee and Thompson

eisner awards1 2015 Eisner judges announced: DAngelo, Graham, Howe, Kirtley, McFee and ThompsonThe judges for the 2015 Eisner Awards have been announced, and as usual they are a stellar group: Carr D’Angelo, librarian/professor Richard Graham, Marvel the Untold Story author Sean Howe, academic Susan Kirtley, volunteer Ron McFee and the incomparable Maggie Thompson, who I can’t believe has never been a judge before!

The judges will meet in early April to binge read every comic put out in 2015, and nominees will be announced shortly afterwards. More info here.

Carr D’Angelo, the founding owner of Earth-2 Comics, operates two stores in the Los Angeles area with his wife, Susan Avallone. Earth-2 Comics Sherman Oaks is the 2007 recipient of the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. In 2011, Earth-2 Sherman Oaks and Northridge were named “Best Place to Stock Up on Trade Paperbacks” by the LA Weekly in their annual Best of Los Angeles issue. D’Angelo started his career in New York as an editor and writer for Starlog, Fangoria, and Comics Scene magazines. Moving to Los Angeles, he worked as a script reader, studio executive, and movie producer. He currently serves as vice president of ComicsPRO, the trade association for comic book specialty retailers.

Richard Graham is media librarian and associate professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and managing editor of SANE (Sequential Art Narratives in Education), an academic e-journal dedicated to using comics in classrooms. Richard is a graduate of the Library School at the University of Iowa and holds a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M, Corpus Christi. In 2012 he was nominated for an Eisner Award for editing Government Issue: Comics for the People (2012), a collection of comics produced for the federal and state governments. He currently maintains online collections of government and educational comic books as well as writes graphic novel/comics reviews for the website No Flying, No Tights.

Sean Howe is the author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, which received an Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book in 2013. His writing has appeared in Wired, Rolling Stone, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Susan Kirtley is an associate professor of English and the Director of Rhetoric and Composition at Portland (Oregon) State University, where she is developing a Comics Studies program. Her research interests include visual rhetoric and graphic narratives, and she has published pieces on comics for the popular press and academic journals. Her book Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass, was the 2013 Eisner Award winner for Best Educational/Academic Work.

Ron McFee has been a volunteer with Comic-Con International for 35 years and has served on the Convention Committee since 1992. He has spent the last 17 years working in the professional registration department, assisting the industry professionals through the application and registration process. Ron also volunteers with San Diego Friends of the library, helping to raise money and bring awareness to how comics can play an important role in literacy. In 2014 he piloted participation of the San Diego city libraries in Free Comic Book Day. Ron has been an executive producer of two animated features, with others in development.

Maggie Thompson has been writing and editing news and articles about comic books and comic strips for more than half a century. Her earliest such work appeared in the pioneering fan publication Comic Art, co-edited with Don Thompson, starting in 1961. After three decades of co-editing the industry publication Comics Buyer’s Guide, she has begun regular contributions to Comic-Con’s Toucan blog and to Diamond Comic Distributors’ Scoop newsletter.

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20683. The snowy ends of the Earth

From Pole to Pole to spend the holiday with a dear friend

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20684. Buying Comics Because It's Your "Retirement Investment"? You're Being Conned!

This article from last year on the Bloomberg Business site and, basically, reinforces everything I've written about.  Lots of New Comic Chique Geeks are being ripped off -especially on Ebay and internet comic stores.  "This Avengers comic is hot! It'll be worth thousands if not hundreds!"

Anyway, read and weep.

Those Comics in Your Basement? Probably Worthless

Those Comics in Your Basement? Probably Worthless
Photograph by Paul Carstairs

Barry T. Smith, 44, spent most of his life collecting comic books. And he always considered them an investment. “These books would someday be college tuition, or a house down payment,” Smith remembers thinking. “I would lay them all out in my parents’ living room, sorting them, cataloging them, writing down entries on graph paper while cross-referencing them against the Overstreet Price Guide.”

After college he landed a tech job in Silicon Valley but held on to all 1,200 of his comics, including several hundred early issues of Marvel’s (DIS) X-Men, which his research suggested had grown in value every year. The comics sat in a storage unit, boarded and bagged, for close to two decades. When Smith found himself unemployed and in need of money to support his wife and two daughters, he decided the time was right to cash in on his investment.

The entire collection sold for about $500. “I’m not too proud to admit, I cried a bit,” Smith says.
He’s not the only would-be investor who’s discovered in recent years that his comic collection isn’t worth nearly as much as he’d hoped. Kevin J. Maroney, 47, of Yonkers, N.Y., decided to sell 10,000 comics, roughly a third of his collection, on consignment with various comic book stores in Manhattan. Thus far, fewer than 300 have sold for a total of about $800. He’s not surprised by the lack of interest. “A lot of people my age, who grew up collecting comics, are trying to sell their collections now,” says Maroney, who works in IT support for Piper Jaffray. “But there just aren’t any buyers anymore.”

Frank Santoro, a columnist for the Comics Journal and an avid collector himself, has noticed the same trend. “More and more of these types of collections are showing up for sale,” he says. “And they’re becoming more and more devalued. The prices are dropping.” He recently had to break the bad news to a friend’s uncle, who was convinced his comic collection—about 3,000 books—was worth at least $23,000. “I told him it was probably more like $500,” Santoro says. “And a comic book store would probably only offer him $200.”

Stories like these are a stark contrast to what’s typically reported. To go by media accounts, 2013 has been a huge year for the vintage comic market. A Minnesota man found a copy of Action Comics No. 1—the first appearance of Superman, published in 1938—in a wall of his house and sold it for $175,000 in June. Three decades ago a different copy of the same comic sold for about $5,000, a record at the time. In August, meanwhile, Heritage Auctions hosted a comic-oriented event in Dallas where a highly-graded copy of the 1940 comic Batman No. 1 sold for a staggering $567,625. A recent piece on the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch website was especially enthusiastic about comics as an investment strategy, calling them “more predictable than stocks” and “recession-proof.” Old comics, the author suggested, could even save your home from foreclosure.

Outlandish claims and tales of amazing windfalls elicit only groans from Rob Salkowitz, a business analyst and author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture. He also happens to be, in his own words, “a guy in his 40s with a basement full of old comics.” He warns that too many people have been deluded into thinking they are sitting on a comic book gold mine.

“There are two markets for comic books,” Salkowitz says. “There’s the market for gold-plated issues with megawatt cultural significance, which sell for hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars. But that’s a very, very, very limited market. If a Saudi sheik decides he needs Action Comics No. 1, there are only a few people out there who have a copy.” And then there’s the other market, where most comics change hands for pennies and nobody is getting rich or even breaking even. “The entire back-issues market is essentially a Ponzi scheme,” Salkowitz says. “It’s been managed and run that way for 35 years.”

Bill Boichel, the owner of Pittsburgh’s Copacetic Comics, argues that transactions involving high-profile vintage comics happen in an entirely separate market. “Ultra-high-grade books sell for as much or more than ever to doctors, lawyers, brokers, and bankers,” he says. Comics like The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1—an Ohio man recently auctioned a copy for $7,900 to help pay for his daughter’s wedding—are considered a “blue chip stock of high liquidity, in that there is always a ready buyer for it.”

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20685. Webcomic alert: What it’s like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island

22 thebox abridged 2 Webcomic alert: What its like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island

The federal government is suing NYC over the treatment of teen-aged inmates at the legendary—and not in a good way— Riker’s Island detention facility.

The federal government plans to file a lawsuit against New York City alleging “widespread civil rights violations” against teen inmates at Rikers Island. The suit comes on the heels of a blistering report conducted by U.S. district attorney Preet Bharara that was released this summer and detailed shocking abuses of adolescent Rikers prisoners, including beatings, verbal abuse, and excessive use of solitary confinement.

If you’re wondering why, here’s a comic book that explains how teens—many of them mentally ill—are put in “the box” for minor infractions.

The comic was reported by Daffodil Altan and Trey Bundy, and illustrated and designed by Anna Vignet, based on conversation with “Izzy” now grown and a case manager for people coming out of Riker’s.

26 27 thebox abridged 0 v22 Webcomic alert: What its like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island

1 Comments on Webcomic alert: What it’s like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island, last added: 12/20/2014
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20686. Reading Selection of the Month: The Vintner’s Daughter

Vintners DaughterWriter’s Digest is particularly proud to highlight our recommended read of the month in December because the author, Kristen Harnisch, is member of the Writer’s Digest community. At our 2012 conference, she made connections that led to her agent. At the 2013 event, she connected with keynote Adriana Trigiani to secure a blurb for her book. And at our 2014 event, we were proud to host Kristen as one of our speakers.

Kristen’s novel, The Vintner’s Daughter, is an extraordinary read – something that would make a great last-minute gift for Christmas, or a perfect pick to start reading in the new year. The Vintner’s Daughter is also available as a Blackstone audio book, narrated by award-winning voice actor Tavia Gilbert.

Blackstone is providing WD readers with a chance to win a FREE download of the audio book. All you have to do is comment on this article or on this Facebook post and tell us why you love books. We’ll select one winner at random. Deadline is December 25, 2015 (Christmas day!).

The Vintner’s Daughter
By Kristen Harnisch

Loire Valley, 1895. When seventeen-year-old Sara Thibault’s father is killed in a mudslide, her mother sells their vineyard to a rival family whose eldest son marries Sara’s sister, Lydia. But a violent tragedy compels Sara and her sister to flee to New York, forcing Sara to put aside her dream to follow in her father’s footsteps as a master winemaker. Meanwhile, Philippe Lemieux has arrived in California with the ambition of owning the largest vineyard in Napa by 1900. When he receives word of his brother’s death in France, he resolves to bring the killer to justice. Sara has travelled to California in hopes of making her own way in the winemaking world. When she encounters Philippe in a Napa vineyard, they are instantly drawn to one another, but Sara knows he is the one man who could return her family’s vineyard to her, or send her straight to the guillotine. This riveting tale of betrayal, retribution, love, and redemption, Kristen Harnisch’s debut novel immerses readers in the rich vineyard culture of both the Old and New Worlds, the burgeoning cities of late nineteenth-century America and a spirited heroine’s fight to determine her destiny.

“Lush and evocative, this novel brings the Loire Valley and its glorious vineyards to life in a story that will delight readers everywhere. Enjoy with your favorite glass of Merlot.”
–Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife

“Will invoke inevitable comparisons to Gone with the Wind…A pleasure.”
–Roberta Rich, bestselling author of The Midwife of Venice

VintnersDaughterAudiobkAbout the Author

Kristen Harnisch drew upon her extensive research and experiences living in the San Francisco Bay Area and visiting the Loire Valley to create the story for The Vintner’s Daughter, her debut novel. The Vintner’s Daughter is the first in a series about the changing world of vineyard life at the turn of the century and was published by HarperCollins Canada and by She Writes Press in the United States. Visit the author online at www.kristenharnisch.com or follow her on Twitter @KristenHarnisch.


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20687. Gesturing Girl

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20688. Hello world!

WordPress へようこそ。これは最初の投稿です。編集もしくは削除してブログを始めてください !

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20689. Your Last Minute Gift Solution

Boomerang Books Gift Vouchers make awesome Christmas Gifts. Here are 9 reasons why you need to buy a Boomerang Books Gift Voucher right now… 1. Ok, admit it…you’ve left your Christmas shopping until the last minute, haven’t you? And now you need to buy something quick smart! Boomerang Books Gift Vouchers are the answer. Guaranteed to […]

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20690. Going Over: a 2014 Booklist Editors' Choice and, among two committed readers, a "best of"

Thank you, Booklist Editors, for including Going Over as one of 16 novels for older readers in your 2014 Editor's Choice books.

And thank you, Serena Agusto-Cox and Sarah Laurence, for being such interesting and committed readers—of many genres, of many books—and of sharing the stories you find with the rest of us. I'm honored to be on your year-end lists, among books that I, too, loved.

Serena Agusto-Cox, for those of you who might not know, is a poet and, beginning in 2015, a reader/writer offering her impressive skills through Poetic Book Tours. She blogs, intelligently and generously, about books here.

Sarah Laurence, meanwhile, is an artist and writer and reviewer, represented by Laura Geringer. I've always been intrigued by her take on books and have always be so very grateful that she has taken time to read and reflect on my own.


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20691. Spider-Woman Gets New “clothes to kick ass in”

635544611181339292 SpiderWoman cover Spider Woman Gets New clothes to kick ass in

By: Alexander Jones

Designer Kris Anka has just crafted some new threads for Jessica Drew A.K.A. Spider-Woman, a woman in need of a super-makeover. Anka has been pulled into reinvent some classic costumes with great results, including Storm’s newish outfit during Marvel NOW! that stuck around only because it was really fantastic. Anka’s new design for Drew will first debut in the Spider-Man Unlimited mobile game, then in March it will spin into the Spider-Woman ongoing title by Dennis Hopeless that spun it’s first web straight from the Spider-Verse.

The new outfit features a jacket, that is almost reminiscent of the new Batgirl outfit, with a couple more refinements in color scheme. The webbed tail surrounding the edges of the sleeves in particular is a great callback to past Spider-Man outfits, as are many of the other little details in the costume itself.

Brian Truitt debuted the news on USA Today, and shared this quote from Spider-Woman editor Nick Lowe:

“they’re clothes to kick ass in.”

635544606069587059 Spider Woman compare Spider Woman Gets New clothes to kick ass in

Another interesting new feature are the gloves that sport the same black and red design from the rest of the outfit. It’s also great to see Marvel combatting some of the bad press they have seen with the Milo Manara variant cover with an outfit that seems more conservative in nature, especially when factoring in the preliminary sketches. It’s also simply enjoyable to see the same old Jessica Drew leaving 1977, she’s not a character that gets a costume design update once a year.

635544608591237491 SpiderWoman profile Spider Woman Gets New clothes to kick ass in


15 Comments on Spider-Woman Gets New “clothes to kick ass in”, last added: 12/20/2014
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20692. Emma

I first read Jane Austen’s Emma in an undergrad literature class. I read it for a second time in a grad school Jane Austen seminar. I wasn’t thrilled with the book either time. It all seemed so bland. Even Frank Churchill’s deception was dull. Out of Austen’s six novels this one was solidly ranked as number five for me with Mansfield Park at the bottom. On this my third reading of the book something happened. Maybe it was because I wasn’t expecting much. Maybe it’s because I have been rereading one Austen a year and this is year six making Emma last. Whatever the case may be, I very much enjoyed the book this time around. I enjoyed it so much I can’t decide if I should move it up just one notch to fourth or all the way to third. It doesn’t matter since no one cares but me, but it does help me give you an idea how much I suddenly liked the book.

I don’t have to like the protagonists of my books in order to like the book, but there has always been something about Emma herself that just rubbed me the wrong way and made me grind my teeth. Snobby, self-centered, privileged meddler about sums up how I saw her. That hasn’t changed but I found myself more sympathetic to her. A good amount of that sympathy is because of her hypochondriac of a father, Mr. Woodhouse. Oh my goodness, he sometimes made me want to break something in order to relieve my frustration over all his little worries. Emma is infinitely patient with him and should be considered for sainthood.

I believe I also unknowingly primed myself to like Emma by reading Being Wrong, a book about all the various ways we can be spectacularly wrong regarding anything and everything. And Emma turns out to spend so much time being wrong that it is almost funny especially since she prides herself on being so perceptive. Because she is a lady, however, she, for the most part, admits her errors with grace and good humor even while completely mortified by them.

I still have a problem with Mr. Knightley who is 37 or 38, even Austen can’t say for sure. Emma is 21. Mr. Knightley always talks about watching Emma grow up and even says he’s loved her since she was a girl. Isn’t that just a bit creepy? Plus, for 95% of the book he acts like he, to put it in a vulgar way because I am no lady, has a stick up his butt. Or maybe he’s a robot? No, it’s a stick since he eventually does display enough human feeling to pass the Turing Test. Mr. Knightley has all the reserve of Mr. Darcy without the wit. Even when he does declare his love for Emma and begins to act like a living person, I still can’t picture them as married. I mean, he has spent the whole book frowning at Emma, correcting her every wrong and expressing his displeasure when she violates social rules that I can’t imagine he would behave any differently once married. How insufferable to have a husband who is always right and always correcting you on everything! Since Mr. Knightley is moving into Hartfield so as not to upset Mr. Woodhouse, I frankly fear for Emma’s sanity, trapped in a home with a hypochondriac and a control freak.

What won me over with the book is the tight plot. Austen is a pro with the red herrings. All the twists and turns of who likes whom is delightful. And since the story is told mainly through Emma’s eyes we are fairly limited to her view of events which means we believe the wrong things too unless you’ve read the book before like I have and know what happens or you are an extra perceptive first-time reader. The clues are all there. Even more fun, since this is Austen we know there will be a happy ending; there will be weddings. But we are kept in suspense for most of the book about who will be marrying whom. It’s all so expertly done.

These last six years rereading one Austen novel every year have been enjoyable. At first I thought when I was done I should do it all over again, but no. Much as I liked it I think I will wait a few years before doing it again. That I will do it again I am quite certain.

Filed under: Books, Jane Austen, Rereading, Reviews

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20693. An Animated Short Presented On 74 Different Screens

An animated short told on over 70 screens from a 2-inch smart-watch to a 65-inch curved HDTV.

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20694. The Fiction Puzzle

Writing/ Fiction Puzzle

I was thinking that it might be helpful to look at the process of learning to write using the idea of a puzzle. I am really thinking of two comparisons here: learning to write generally and learning to write a particular novel or story.

I think that when you first start to write you struggle and part of the struggle is you don’t have the right pieces. You force pieces where they don’t go because you need to do something. Also there are many holes in the puzzle which you try to overlook, though you feel something is wrong. Your puzzle is, in short, a mess.

Writing just takes time. You have to write a lot and finish some things—most of us anyway have to do this—before your completed puzzle looks like anything resembling an accomplishment. You have to struggle through a couple of very ugly finished puzzles before you do something that fits together. You learn how to write by writing (and to a lesser extent reading). An important part of this is finishing a story or novel so that you know what that's like--and revising.

What happens after that, when you reach a certain level, having worked on the different aspects of craft (character, language, dialogue, plot, setting, voice etc… the different puzzle pieces) is you begin to be able to put a puzzle together that creates a coherent picture of varying interest. What our challenge is at this point—and it’s a challenge that never ends—is to improve the pieces of the puzzle and the way they fit together in a particular story. Writing is ultimately about connection—about making all these pieces fit together in a way that makes an interesting—at the basic level—story. WE hope for more, of course; we hope for surprising, brilliant, exciting. We hope for transcendence, power, beauty….More. 

I think some writers become competent with the puzzle and they’re fine with that. They’ll continue to create interesting stories that fit together and they will be similar in content and structure and that’s ok for them. They don’t keep struggling to learn more because they’ve mastered what they need.

Others struggle on. They keep learning. They try different things. Their work may be a bit less polished than the writer who does a similar thing over and over, but they also have a better chance of creating something...More. I try to be this kind of writer.

Every writer faces the second kind of puzzle every time they begin a new work. They must discover the pieces of a new puzzle and how they fit together. Since every story is different, even a writer who writes similar stories will likely struggle with this. It will be easier, of course, but it will still be a challenge.

OK, enough with the puzzle. My point is pretty simple. No matter how long you’ve been writing, you can always get better if you keep fighting to find new ways to improve your skills. This fight and improving skills put you in a position to reach higher levels with your work. Sure, writers are born with different levels and kinds of talent. That we can’t change. What we can change is our skills and these skills can give us the opportunity to create works we would otherwise be unable to create.

Put it another way--Successful art comes from hard, steady work and from being in the right place at the right time. The poet, Randall Jarrell, once said he stood out in the rain hoping to be struck by lightening. Poets can be a bit gloomy but he’s right that writing is about constantly trying to learn more so that you can be in a place where, if the right connection is made, if the right strike of lightening hits, you can use it in a way that gives you the chance to write the best story you’re capable of writing.

Or so I think today.

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If you are near the Tacoma area, which isn't very far from Seattle, (about a half hour drive at the most) I have art in this SCBWI WWA illustrators exhibit. The image that I have framed is also one of the murals in the museum on the 3rd floor for the "Time Intrusionator" exhibit. So if you go to the SCBWI show, please stop by the exhibit on the third floor. I have several other images in that show.

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20696. 14 DC Titles Cancelled...More First Issues On The Way!!!

Swamp Thing #40 cover
Swamp Thing #40 cover

IGN and other sites are reporting that DC is to cancel 14 titles and that the old DC universe (WHICH one?) will be returning.

According to IGN http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/12/16/dc-to-end-14-comics-in-march-2015

Check out the full list of cancellations below:
  • Aquaman and the Others #11
  • Arkham Manor #6
  • Batman Eternal #52
  • Batwoman #40
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #40
  • Infinity Man and the Forever People #9
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Three #12
  • Klarion #6
  • Red Lanterns #40
  • Secret Origins #11
  • Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #8
  • Swamp Thing #40
  • Trinity of Sin #6
  • World's Finest #32
While the solicitations for Earth 2: World's End and The New 52: Futures End don't make it explicit, we suspect both of those series are also concluding in March.

You can read more at IGN

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Last week I finished my Christmas card for next year. "Xmas Circus"
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you have a sweet day!

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20698. Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan

Fly AwayLucy can’t sing. She wishes she could, but she just can’t seem to carry a tune. Her sister Gracie has a lovely voice. Even her brother Teddy who is not quite 2 and who hardly even talks, can sing perfectly in tune. However, only Lucy really knows that Teddy can sing at all. It’s their secret until a family crisis brings his talents to light. Every year Lucy and her family pack up their van, chickens and all, and go to help her mom’s aunt Frankie in North Dakota during the rainy season when the river floods. This year the raging river looks particularly fierce to young Lucy. When little Teddy goes missing one afternoon it is up to Lucy to overcome her fear of not only the river, but also singing, in order to find him.

In Fly Away Patricia MacLachlan has captured the essence of the child’s point of view beautifully. Told from Lucy’s perspective, the family trip to Aunt Frankie’s takes on a childlike wonder. While the flooding river and the storms that cause it are certainly precarious, Lucy’s perspective adds a level of intensity that is specific to her youth. In addition, something as simple as her inability to sing carries extra feeling because we are experiencing the emotions through Lucy’s filter.

Fly Away is a short, but moving story about what it means to be part of a family and accepting the talents we have been given instead of lamenting those we have not. It would make a good choice for fans of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books or Tomie DePaola’s memoir series. Readers who enjoy Fly Away should also try MacLachlan’s White Fur Flying as well.

Posted by: Staci

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20699. This Maya Tutorial Begins Normally But Just Keep Watching

All is not what it seems in this Maya walk cycle tutorial by Nathan Hibberd.

0 Comments on This Maya Tutorial Begins Normally But Just Keep Watching as of 12/22/2014 3:28:00 PM
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20700. Neil Gaiman Reads A Christmas Carol

35405593_gvv24v-3.inline verticalLast year, author Neil Gaiman celebrated the holiday season by reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens to an audience at The New York Public Library. Follow this link to listen to the reading. (via Open Culture)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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