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What is a purveyor of awesomeness? If you saw one walking down the street would you know? Let me help you out. Just look at the picture to the left. When you write novels about butt-kicking females with a Greek mythology backdrop, you can put “Purveyor of Awesomeness” on your website next to your name because you’re bound to turn heads! She turned ours, and that’s why on this 24th day of February, 2015, The Brown Bookshelf is honored, and excited to spotlight:


The Process

How do you work? Do you start with a character, a concept, an idea? Do you outline first or just go? Is there a technique or routine for drafting or revising that you find particularly helpful? Do you have an office or other location that works best for you?

I am a complete and utter pantser (meaning I don’t outline). So my writing process is deceptively simple and completely insane:

  1. I come up with the basic idea (not a plot, just a general idea). Example: Dexter meets Greek Mythology.
  2. I write the first 30,000 words or so. Generally the entire first act heading into the second (my books are generally between 80,000 and 90,000 words).
  3. I write the ending so I have a direction. Otherwise I would just keep writing with no end in sight.
  4. I fill in the gaps.
  5. Revisions! Smoothing out the plotholes, making sure plot threads make it the entire way through the book, etc.

9781442444621(1) If the process sounds disorganized, that’s because it is. I see writing as a kind of archeology. The process of uncovering the story is just as important as the story for me, which sounds a lot prettier than it is in reality. There is usually swearing. And lots of swearing. To be honest my process has been different for each story, but there is always swearing.

I think that’s what makes it fun, the spontaneity of it all! Or maddening. Sometimes it is both fun and maddening, which explains the swearing.

I mostly write at home, in the evenings and in the mornings before I head to work (I have a day job that is not writing related). My writing locations are the office I share with my husband within my home and the dining room table. Not sure why I like writing at the dining room table. Maybe because it’s right next to the kitchen and therefore close to the food.

The Inspiration

I actually write a lot of my stories based on music, which sounds weird. But sometimes hearing just the right song will inspire a feeling that drives my story.

Vengeance Bound, my first published story, was sparked by the album American Idiot by Green Day.

Promise of Shadows was pretty much entirely written to three albums: What to Do When You are Dead by Armor for Sleep, Juturna by Circa Survive and On Letting Go by Circa Survive.

My most recent story was inspired by Rage Against the Machine’s Evil Empire, so you can pretty much imagine what that is like. For me, music is a huge part of my process. I listen to music when IBY JUSTINA IRELAND write, and I actually find it pretty hard to write without it.

As for writers who inspire me, I love Courtney Summers, Jenny Han, Justina Chen, Nova Ren Suma, and Alaya Dawn Johnson.

Under The Radar

Brandy Colbert’s Pointe is a book that I think has not gotten nearly enough love. Theo’s journey is just plain heartbreaking, and I hope lots of good things happen for that book in 2015.

I’m also a huge fan of LR Giles, Stephanie Kuehn, Elsie Chapman, Lydia Kang, and Maurene Goo. I hope all of them continue to write fantastic books. And I hope people continue to read them.


The State of the Industry

I honestly think that the industry is really at a pretty important decision point. The We Need Diverse Books campaign has done a good job of shining a light on the challenges within the publishing industry with regards to diversity and how we can all do better. There’s a lot of talk about increasing diversity, not just with regards to the books being published but also with regards to the staff at the publishing houses. But right now I feel it’s more lip service than reality. Everyone thinks diversity is important, but it seems like few people are actually challenging themselves to make it a reality. If the big publishing houses want to cater to people of color they need to make a commitment to doing just that. And they need to publish books that reflect diversity across the board, not just a couple of issue books every season or diverse books ghettoized under a specific imprint. Where are my black Katnisses? Or my Latino Harry Potters? I’d love to see more books that really push the envelope and break out of the old models, books like Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Love is the Drug, which is a book that talks about race and class but also has a pretty amazing storyline as well.

Of course, there are publishers like Lee and Low that have always been committed to diversity and that probably don’t get nearly enough credit for what they do. But in an ideal world I’d really like to see publishers like Lee and Low rendered obsolete. I’d like it to be easier to find a book with a character of color than a talking animal or some mythological creature, but I think right now we’re a few years away from that goal.


Thank you, Justina, for your contributions to Young Adult books!

Learn more about Justina Ireland by visiting her website:  http://justinaireland.com

Follow Justina Ireland on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/tehawesomersace

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2577. New Kitten

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2578. We all know what happens to the curious cat, right?! #pencil...

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2579. ‘Spectators’ by Ross Hogg

"Spectators" is an observational animation that inverts the expected focus of a football match, turning attention to those on the periphery.

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2580. little dog

little dog by dibujandoarte
little dog, a photo by dibujandoarte on Flickr.

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2581. Day 23: Jerry Craft

By Jerry Craft

JerryCraftOffendersComposite_w (1)I published my first book back in 1997. Since then I have written and / or illustrated more than a dozen others. I think the reason why I’ve dedicated my life to get kids to read is because I went through most of my life not enjoying reading whatsoever.  In fact, whoever coined the term “reluctant reader” must have known me as a kid. And as a teen. And even as a young adult. To be honest,  I was a grown man before I ever read a book on my own for enjoyment. It’s not that I couldn’t read, I was an “A” student who made Honor Roll every semester. It was that reading was never anything that was fun. Actually, it was a chore, like mowing the lawn. (Even though there were no lawns in the Washington Heights section of NYC, where I grew up.) And for a kid with a very active imagination, I needed something to grab my attention.  I know my parents read to me as a kid, but once the Dr. Seuss stage passed, I was on my own. Sure, I’d see them read newspapers and magazines, but have few memories of them with books.

In school, reading was always something I HAD to do, there was no getting around it. And believe me, I tried. Books being boring. For one thing, even though I attended schools that were 99% African American, I don’t ever remember having to read a book that featured characters that looked like any of us. Unless you count runaway slaves. So if it wasn’t for Marvel Comics, OffendersCover_w (1)my reading enjoyment would have been close to zero! As a kid I was a huge comic book fan. Each week, I’d anxiously run to the corner candy store in order to buy the latest issues of Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four. But even then, if the plots had too many non-fighting pages, I’d kind of gloss over all that boring dialogue in order to get to the good stuff. Ka-Blam! But even though I, and many of my classmates, were reading, having a teacher catch you with a comic book was only slightly better than being caught with some kind of illegal contraband. Apparently, they didn’t want any of those “foul things” rotting our fragile little brains. It wasn’t until I reached the 7th grade that I had my first, and probably only, teacher who was a comic book fan. That was refreshing.

And then … as if books didn’t have enough competition with things like stickball, and touch football (way back when kids used to go outside to play) they invented the Atari 2600! That was one of the very first video game systems, for those of you who may not know. And reading for enjoyment went the way of the dinosaur.

In high school, there were a bunch of us who read comics, but unfortunately as I got older, the books that we were supposed to read for got bigger. And more boring. And even less reflective of my life. The memory of having to read William Faulkner’s, “As I Lay Dying,” still haunts me to this day!

Fast forward to college where I attended The School of Visual Arts. Most people who know that I went there, think that I was a cartooning major. But the cartooning classes were so popular that I was never able to actually sign up for one. Instead I majored in advertising copywriting where I wrote headlines for newspaper ads, radio commercials and TV commercials. This was right up my alley. What I wrote could be funny, it could be serious, but whatever it was, it had to be short. Fast forward about 10 years, when I left the struggling advertising world to get a job at King Features

BigPixCoverFinalSyndicate and later at Sports Illustrated for Kids. It was during this time that I had created my Mama’s Boyz comic strip. Again, the writing was funny and short! This was way back when personal computers just started taking off. And for the first time in my life, I found something that I actually ENJOYED reading other than comic books. Software manuals! Really!  I could actually sit down for hours and read a book on how to use Photoshop or Flash. The books were not only huge, nor were they the least bit exciting. But for some reason, I LOVED them!!! Then one day I got an email from a fan of my Mama’s Boyz comic strip. I used to have a page on my website where I showed how slang had changed from my father’s era, to mine, to the current group of teens. After exchanging a few emails, he told me that he was an author and wanted to know if I wanted to swap books with him. Why not? I sent him a copy of Mama’s Boyz: As American as Sweet Potato Pie! (which I had published myself), and a few days later I got a package in the mail with not only one book, but two! And they were long. “Aw crap, I remember thinking, now I HAVE to read both of these books, ‘cause he’s gonna want to know what I think of them.” And so I started the task. By now, I was married and living in Connecticut, so I had a few hours commuting on MetroNorth each day that I could devote to reading them. And you know what, I liked them. In fact, I LOVED them!!! When I was done, I was proud to write my new author friend, Mr. Eric Jerome Dickey and tell him what I thought of Sister, Sister and Friends and Lovers. From that point on, I felt like a superhero who had gotten super powers as a result of some freak accident. I LIKED TO READ! Now it was a matter of catching up on books that I had always heard about, but had never actually read. Classics like The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Invisible Man.

A few years later I had kids. Not wanting them to be reluctant readers like their dad, I literally read to them every single night forZombieZoneCover_wthe first six years of their lives. Maybe longer. And then  they’d read to me. Or we’d do it together. Short books. Long books. Everything we could get our hands on. I even did voices for the characters. Plus I made sure that they saw characters who looked like them. Their bookshelves were filled with names like Eric Velazquez, Bryan Collier, Shadra Strickland, Don Tate, E.B. Lewis, R. Gregory Christie, and anyone whose last name is Pinkney. Then when I decided to write chapter books, there was no better sounding board than the two of them. They were my own private focus group. A few years ago, I was reading them a story that I was working on about 5 middle school bullies who get superpowers. And this time, instead of just sitting back and listening, they (now teenagers) were critical. Very critical. “Dad, no kid would say that,” I remember one of them saying. “Well what would he say?” And they told me. And it was good. After a few sessions of them setting me straight, I decided to make them co-writers. Luckily they accepted. And after about a year of writing, we were overjoyed to see, “The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!” published. I had not only come full circle, from reluctant reader, to reader. Then to father of readers. Now that they had actually helped to write a book, they had broken through the circle. And that’s something that even a little boy from Washington Heights with an active imagination would have NEVER imagined possible.


Jerry Craft has illustrated and / or written more than two dozen children’s books, comic books and board games. Most recent is a middle grade novel co-written with his two teenage sons, Jaylen and Aren called: “The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!” — an adventure story that teaches kids about the effects of bullying. He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, a comic strip that won four African American Literary Awards and was distributed by King Features from 1995 – 2013. He also illustrated “The Zero Degree Zombie Zone,” for Scholastic. For more info email him at jerrycraft@aol.com or visit http://www.jerrycraft.net

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2582. Chinese TV Network Rips Off American Student Film

What do you do when one of China's largest TV broadcasters rips off your student film?

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2583. selfportrait in graphite

i think in this one i used a 0.5mm mine rolling it on the paper to begin,
later surely i added some pencil, don't remember now

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2584. Turning cat videos into cat comics… What a life! #sketch #pencil...

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2585. still life

still life by dibujandoarte
still life, a photo by dibujandoarte on Flickr.

​coloured pencils on paper, i digitally added some saturation ​to the
colours to make the look a little brighter

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2586. Original Concept Art Give Away!

Kickstarter​ up-date:
This week, I am giving away some never before seen original concept art.  I will randomly pick two lucky winners and announce the result on March 2nd, Monday morning, Pacific Time. Join in the fun and pledge now!!


At the end of the campaign, I will put together a special edition E-book in pdf format with all these extra give away artworks plus more.  ALL my backers will receive a copy of this E-book as a bonus gift!!  ^______^

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2587. Christmas Bear Sketches

A very small and sweet story unfolded as I drew these.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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2588. Contemplation

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2589. Original Concept Art Give Away!

Kickstarter​ up-date:
This week, I am giving away some never before seen original concept art.  I will randomly pick two lucky winners and announce the result on March 2nd, Monday morning, Pacific Time. Join in the fun and pledge now!!


At the end of the campaign, I will put together a special edition E-book in pdf format with all these extra give away artworks plus more.  ALL my backers will receive a copy of this E-book as a bonus gift!!  ^______^

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2590. selfportrait

selfportrait by dibujandoarte
selfportrait, a photo by dibujandoarte on Flickr.

another sp in pencil, from 2012, about half A4 size

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2591. We are starting early, and we’re starting with cookies....

We are starting early, and we’re starting with cookies. #LifeIsShort #studio (at 17th Avenue Studios)

Original post by Brian Bowes via Emergent Ideas: http://ift.tt/1A10Sme

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2592. a little something special...

for jeni
©the enchanted easel 2015
for someone special.

this is a custom drawing for a friend from high school who has been battling endocrine cancer for a while now. this girl is a FIGHTER! nothing keeps her down. she always has a smile on her face no matter how tough her days are at times. so...

between her love of gerbera daisies and her ability to rock that zebra print well, i wanted to bring an extra smile to her beautiful face.

always thinking positive thoughts and lifting prayers for this special girl. may you continue to fight the fight and rock that zebra, jeni! :)

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2593. Phil May (1863-1904)

"Shave, or hair cut, sir?" "Corns, you fool!
Phil May (1863-1904) was an English cartoonist known for his deft and economical pen-and-ink caricatures. He grew up around the theater, so he was familiar with music hall actors and types. 

Benevolent Lady (distributing tract to inebriate, who has refused to accept one), "Do take one. If you read it, it will do you good."
Drunk (pulling himself together), —"Madam, I writes 'em."

He went to London and was so poor for a while that he slept on park benches, and he got to know all the varieties of gutter snipes. He portrayed them with a kindly wit and a sympathetic eye.

"Mos' 'stronary thing! a' most shertain th'was shome coffee in it."

He was so prolific that a publication came out using just his pictures, "Phil May's Illustrated." His cartoons of drunks and street characters made him wealthy and famous. 

Portrait of Phil May by J. J. Shannon
He liked to wear colorful outfits. According to John Lavery, "The last time we met he came to his studio door wearing the loudest suit I had ever seen. Seeing my look of surprise, he smiled and said, 'Come in and listen to it, dear boy.'"

ARTIST: 'My good man, may I have the honour of sketching your likeness? I am Mr. Phil May."
RUSTIC:  'Oh! are yer? Then, this time you'll be Mr. Phil Mayn't."
Phil May on Wikipedia

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2594. who knows who is who?

who knows who is who? by dibujandoarte
who knows who is who?, a photo by dibujandoarte on Flickr.

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2595. The Book of Pain a Guest Post by Roger Lawrence

I’d like to thank Barbara for inviting me to talk about myself, a subject my wife is always accusing me of. Can’t think what she means.

I still remember the very first book I ever read on my own because my older brother had just hit me with it. Janet and John, book four. It took me a while to get through because I was only six, but by the end of the first page I was hooked and it didn’t take long before I got on to the adventures of Jennings, a series of real boys books by Richmal Crompton. Billy Bunter soon followed and my reading life was set. Throughout my childhood I must have read most of the gorgeous books sold by Barbara and only wish I could read them again.

As I grew older the wonder of new lives and worlds, at least while I was reading never left me, and about twenty five years ago I wrote my very first novel. I thought it was a wonder of the highest magnitude despite the beginning, middle and end being in the wrong places. I even sent it off to a publisher who probably laughed himself sick before sending it back covered with coffee stains and what looked suspiciously like egg yolk.

Now, with a market absolutely saturated with Indie writers like myself, the writing almost takes second place to the marketing. But ultimately, and even if I don’t sell a million copies and buy a Porsche, I’ll still write because that boyhood enchantment with books has never left me.

My new novel, The Book of Pain is a departure for me in that it’s a mixture of horror, mystery and love. I’ve probably broken multiple rules there but it was something I’ve been thinking about for years and had to get it out of my system. 

It can be found here:

If you would like to connect with Roger, you can do so by visiting his very entertaining Three Hoodies Save The World blog.   Thank you for agreeing to talk about yourself Roger!  I’m a fan of your work and hosting you was a pleasure. Barbara.

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2596. old sketch in watercolours

a sketch from sometime ago where I was trying some watercolours effects on
the paper

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2597. Reconstruction

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2598. Comic: Taking Punctuation Personally

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2599. Oh Look - It's Me!

I had another of those nice packages arrive through the post... 

Turns out The Leverhulme Trust (the lovely guys who are giving me the money to do my residency with The Morgan Centre) has a magazine. It's called a 'newsletter', but it's very glossy. January's edition was forwarded to me by Professor Heath. It announced the list of residencies they were awarding - 20 in total. 

Lots are with various universities across the country There's a really wide range of study areas: Law, War Studies, Pharmacy, Geography, Medicine and more. Then there is an observatory in Armagh who is working with a musician, The National Waterways Museum who is working with a theatre writer / performer...

Apparently they selected from over 200 submissions, so we did really well to be selected, which feels great! I am delighted to discover that it is possible (at least in principle) to earn a crust from my sketching, as well as my picture book illustration. I am really enjoying the greater variety I have these days too.

Anyway, in December, Professor Heath wrote an article for the newsletter about our plans and, as you can see, it got a full page. Hurrah!

A big roll of watercolour paper also arrived last week, with a few book-binding bits, ready for me to make the concertina sketchbooks I am going to use throughout the 10 month residency. It's starting to feel real!

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2600. If/Then

This week's agenda: finishing up a book cover that I can't show (yet), but a painting that I can show (now).

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