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INKYGIRL: Daily Diversions For Writers is maintained by Debbie Ridpath Ohi offers writing-related cartoons, writing tips, highlights other writerly blogs and blog entries, and also delves into certain writer obsessions. Debbie is author of The Writer's Online Marketplace (Writer's Digest Books) and was creator of Inkspot. She is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Toronto.
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1. Yay, it's time for Donalyn Miller's annual summer #BookADay Challenge!

YAYYY! Donalyn Miller just announced the 8th Annual #BookADay Challenge on her blog.

Do read Donalyn's inspiring post above about why she started the Challenge, how to involve young readers, the various ways you can approach it. An excerpt:

"It doesn’t matter if you actually read a book every day or not. Dedicate more time to read. Celebrate your right to read what you want. Make reading plans. Share and collect book recommendations. Connect with other readers.The #bookaday challenge is personal, not a competition. Finish that series. Tackle that epic historical your mother gave you for your birthday (last September). Try audiobooks. How would you like to grow as a reader this summer?"

I will be mainly be posting my #BookADay reads on Twitter at @inkyelbows but will link to posts in my #BookADay archives.

Yes, I do read books the rest of the year! But I love the specific summer reading challenge as extra motivation. I've been working a lot of weekends and evenings in recent months, and I think it would be good to get out of that habit and do more reading instead.

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2. Comic For Bibliophiles: Coffee Stain Breakup

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3. Writers & illus: Resist comparing yourself to others. Instead, appreciate & enjoy your OWN journey.

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4. Comic: Writer Health Tip (a.k.a. "Why writers should take regular breaks from the keyboard")

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5. Here's my superpower. What's YOURS? #DTLMySuperpower

So what's YOUR superpower? 

We want to know.

Some dream of invisibility or being able to fly, but each of us already has a real-life superpower that can change the world.

In Laurent Linn’s powerful debut novel, Draw the Line, Adrian Piper Adrian Piper creates a superhero version of himself named Graphite. As Adrian tries to do in his own life with his creations, he gives Graphite the superpower of art to fight brutality. He also draws superhero versions of his best friends, bestowing upon them powers unique to who they really are.

So we’d like you to create a drawing of you as a superhero.

Everyone can make a difference in the world, no matter who we are or what we do. What would your superhero look like, and what would be your unique superpower? It should be what you love to do: for example, it could be art, writing, math, cooking, making people laugh . . . anything! How could you change the world?

Enter the Riveted "Draw The Line: What is YOUR Superpower" Sweepstakes and you may win a copy of the book and an original illustration of Graphite based on the art from the book! 

See DETAILS AND HOW TO ENTER on the Riveted website.

You can see me as The Food Doodler above. :-) My friend Laurent also happens to be my awesome art director at Simon & Schuster, and I'm soooooo excited about his debut novel!

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6. Comic: Bad Dog

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7. Writers: You only fail if you quit. Don’t think about the odds and don’t give up. - Matt Myklusch

Writers: You only fail if you quit. Don’t think about the odds and don’t give up. - Matt Myklusch.

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8. There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. - Ray Bradbury

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9. Comic: Why you should always proofread your email one last time before hitting SEND

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10. Comic: The Scrabble Addict

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11. Comic: Another Advantage Of Print Books

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12. Comic: The Rejection

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13. Micropoem: Punctuation Rebel (for Day 12 of #AprPAD)

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14. Poem for writers about bad reviews

As I mentioned earlier, I'm having fun participating in Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem-A-Day Challenge. This poem was written in response to the topic "defence."

 

 

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15. Comic: Poet Fame #NationalPoetryMonth

Happy National Poetry Month

I'm participating in Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem-A-Day Challenge, and have been posting some of my poems on Twitter at @inkyelbows and have also been posting some on my Poetry For Young Readers page.

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16. Comic for other writers and illustrators working on their taxes right now

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17. Comic: Bilbiophile Angst

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18. THE DIABOLIC by S.J. Kincaid: Standalone, action-adventure thriller launching this Nov/2016

Wow, loved S.J. Kincaid's THE DIABOLIC so much. I strongly recommend this standalone action-adventure thriller, especially if you're a fan of Erin Bow's THE SCORPION RULES. Fantastic world-building and character relationships.

What I especially enjoyed about THE DIABOLIC:

- Wonderful world-building, as mentioned above. I'm a big sf nerd and come across lots of books with great world-building but whose characters are flat and seem to be mainly props to move the plot and support the world-building. With THE DIABOLIC, I fell in love with the main character right away ... despite the fact that she is a bioengineered killing machine (another fact I adore).

- The diverse and entirely believable character relationships. Especially enjoyed the complex bond between the main character and her friend Sidonia.

- There were strong female characters throughout.

- Plot twists and political intrigue. I've never considered myself a fan of political thrillers, but got totally sucked into the political maneuverings in this story because of the great characters.

Highly recommended.

You can find out more about how S.J. Kincaid's THE DIABOLIC got published in this Publishers Weekly article.

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19. Picture books create readers from the ground up. Don't rush children out of them.

"Picture books create readers from the ground up. Don't rush children out of them." - Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

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20. Be aware when research & prep becomes a crutch. At some point, you need to jump in & WRITE.

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21. A comic for other writers and illustrators who go through self-doubt during the creative process

A comic for other writers and illustrators who go through self-doubt during the creative process.

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22. FIFTEEN LANES by S.J. Laidlaw (Tundra Books, launching April/2016)

Just finished FIFTEEN LANES by S.J. Laidlaw (a.k.a. Susan Laidlaw), which comes out from Tundra Books/Penguin Random House on April 5th, 2016.

An intense and compelling read, FIFTEEN LANES follows the lives of two teenage girls from very different backgrounds. I found parts of the book difficult to get through because I felt so sad for the characters involved (one of the girls is the daughter of a sex worker in Mumbai, growing up in a brothel) but am so glad I kept reading. FIFTEEN addresses tough issues with honesty and hope.

It's no wonder the details and background are well-researched; the author herself works at an NGO facility in India, volunteering with sex workers' daughters in Kamathipura, the largest red-light district in Asia.

You can find out more about Susan and her work at SJLaidlaw.com, on Twitter at @SusanLaidlaw1 and on Facebook. I interviewed Susan about one of her other YA books, An Infidel In Paradise; you can read about her writing process and advice for young writers here.

Synopsis of FIFTEEN LANES from Tundra Books: "Noor has lived all of her fourteen years in the fifteen lanes of Mumbai’s red light district. Born into a brothel, she is destined for the same fate as her mother: a desperate life trapped in the city’s sex trade. She must act soon to have any chance of escaping this grim future. Across the sprawling city, fifteen-year-old Grace enjoys a life of privilege. Her father, the CEO of one of India’s largest international banks, has brought his family to Mumbai where they live in unparalleled luxury. But Grace’s seemingly perfect life is shattered when she becomes a victim of a cruel online attack. When their paths intersect, Noor and Grace will be changed forever. Can two girls living in vastly different worlds find a common path?

"Award-winning author S.J. Laidlaw masterfully weaves together their stories in a way that resonates across class and culture. Fifteen Lanes boldly explores the ties that bind us to places and people, and shows us that the strongest of bonds can be forged when hope is all but lost."

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23. New comic: Zombie writers

Thanks to Traci Van Wagoner, who provided the winning caption for the challenge I recently posted in social media.

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24. Advice For Young Writers, Treadmill Desks and MISSION MUMBAI: Mahtab Narsimhan Answers Three Questions

Mahtab Narsimhan is the award-winning author of The Third Eye. Her realistic novel, The Tiffin, based on the dabbawallas of Mumbai, also received critical acclaim. Mission Mumbai and Looking for Lord Ganesh are coming out this year. Committed to diversity in her stories, Mahtab lives in Toronto with her husband, son, golden retriever, and far too many novel ideas. 

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance reader's copy of MISSION MUMBAI: A NOVEL OF SACRED COWS, SNAKES AND STOLEN TOILETS. Mission Mumbai is a rollicking adventure packed with laugh-out-loud fun, dare-devil thrills and truly moving moments. A book nerd, foodie and aspiring photographer, the story's main character Dylan is irresistible. I loved his sense of humor! Also, the descriptions of Indian food had my mouth watering. Can't wait until this book is out in bookstores on March 29th! Highly recommended. 

You can find Mahtab at MahtabNarsimhan.com, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Synopsis of MISSION MUMBAI, which comes out from Scholastic Inc. on March 29th, 2016:

When Dylan joins his best friend, Rohit, on a family vacation to India, he’s excited! Mumbai is amazing but he’s always a step away from disaster. When Ro’s family problems threaten to cut the trip short, it seems their friendship might be shattered irrevocably.

More info about the book on Scholastic.ca and Scholastic.com (with teacher info).

Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?

The most recent addition to my office is the treadmill under my desk – a gift from my husband, Rahul. I have to thank award-winning author, Arthur Slade, for the inspiration. This little (actually, not so little because it weighs 114 pounds!) device has changed my life. Writers are normally sedentary so being active, while creating, is fun. And it's a cool way to exercise your head and heart! On a regular day, I get in three to four hours of writing and walking, simultaneously. When I’m done, I’m Done.

Typing on the move took some getting used to but after months of practice, I get into the rhythm within minutes. It keeps me alert and motivated to go just a bit further than I would. Instead of feeling tired, I’m energized at the end of a walking-writing session. Love it!

Q. What advice do you have for young writers?

A walk starts with a single step. A book starts with a single word. Don’t be intimidated about a task, no matter how large. Break it up into small manageable chunks and get going.

When starting a new project, I give myself a daily goal of 1500 words. I adopted this practice after reading ON WRITING by Stephen King whose daily goal is 2000 words. It’s the best advice I ever got.

I try and hit that goal even on the days I don’t feel like writing. It all adds up and I have a draft (albeit not a very good one) at the end of 3-4 months. You can always improve on bad prose but not a blank page.

Of all the analogies I’ve read about writing, this one is my favourite:

When driving at night, your vision is limited to the distance illuminated by your headlights. You cannot see all the way home. By focusing on the short stretch of road you can see, you do eventually reach home.

Writing is very much like driving home in the dark. You can’t see the end of the novel when you begin. Even if you do have some idea, you’re not sure of the road you’ll take to get there. By focusing on a chapter, or even a page, at a time, and sticking with it, you will eventually get to The End.

Mahtab's launch of THE TIFFIN in Mumbai

Q. What are you excited about right now?

I’m always excited about my most recent work-in-progress . At the moment it’s a middle-grade science-fiction series set on Mars. This setting is a tad different from Mumbai, where I grew up, and needs a lot of research. And yes, there are mutants!

I’m thrilled about my novel, Mission Mumbai, A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes and Stolen Toilets which will published by Scholastic on March 29, 2016. Kirkus gave it a great review.

My first picture book, Looking for Lord Ganesh, is also out in April 2016 with Lantana Publishing of UK.  

I also have a short story, Wrath of Gaia, coming out in a speculative fiction anthology by Laksa Media, titled "Strangers Among Us".  So, this is a great year for me!

------

For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

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25. Productivity reminder: When online, DON'T FALL DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE.

Of course, this isn't based at all from my own experience.

Ahem.

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