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Results 26 - 50 of 125,111
26. Purple Day: a day for thinking about people with epilepsy

Purple Day started with the curiosity and of a girl in eastern Canada, in the province of Nova Scotia, who had epilepsy. It soon became a world-wide success. Purple Day is now an international initiative and effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy around the globe. Why is it so important to create awareness around people with epilepsy?

The post Purple Day: a day for thinking about people with epilepsy appeared first on OUPblog.

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27. What if Dr. Seuss Wrote a Story Set in a Chipotle?

buzzfeedCould you ever picture The Cat in The Hat eating tacos? How about The Lorax chowing down on a burrito?

Two members of the BuzzFeed staff, writer Jean-Luc Bouchard and artist Andrea Hickey, collaborated on a story called “Dr. Seuss Goes To Chipotle.” This Theodor Seuss Geisel-inspired piece was created “with heaps of love and respect for Dr. Seuss, as well as full-bellied appreciation for Chipotle.”

Here’s an excerpt: “I asked for one meat. And then?  Why, for two! Ignoring the digestive impact I would rue. And that’s how I made-up a bowl of half-sneetch and a just-as-big ladle serving of beast.”

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28. Elvis Costello to Pen Memoir

Musician Elvis Costello is working on a memoir.

The book, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, will come out on Penguin’s Blue Rider Press in October. Check it out:

Born to a musical family outside of London and relocated to Liverpool, Costello created his own form of punk, became one of the first artists to exploit the newly-burgeoning MTV-Video world and managed to make himself a huge reputation in the UK and the U.S. through both his catchy tunes, provocative, poetic lyrics and more than a few instances of bad behavior. Now, having just turned sixty, Elvis is in the pantheon of elder statesmen musician/rockers, collaborating often with the likes of Paul McCartney, great ballet and opera companies, hip-hop groups, jazz ensembles while appearing frequently in venues like Carnegie Hall and on shows like David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon.

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29. First the Newbery, then the Cinema!

The Newbery Award, over its long history, has produced many enduring classics. But just how enduring are those classics when they are transferred from the page to the big screen? As my library plans our next season of R.W.D. (Read, Watch, Discuss) we took a look at some Newbery movies to see how they stack up to their literary predecessors.

2003's Holes

I think my favorite Newbery-award-winner-turned-big-screen-phenomenon is Louis Sachar’s Holesthough I will admit a bias: I am a huge fan of the book, and think it is one of best-plotted middle grades around. It helps tremendously that Sachar himself wrote the screenplay, an honor afforded to very few authors. Even J.K. Rowling didn’t get to adapt her own books! Any adjustments to the plot seem to flow organically and make sense. The cast is also excellent: Shia LaBeouf, whatever has become of him since, was magnetically watchable as the down-on-his-luck hero, and the always charming Dule Hill added extra pathos to Sam, making his demise even more tragic. If you’re looking for a great Newbery book-to-film adaptation, look no further.

terabithiaBridge to Terabithia is another classic Newbery-winner that was adapted into a well-regarded film, in this case, 2007’s version starring a young Josh Hutcherson (Peeta!). The trailer for this film made fans of the novel anxious when it was first released, as it seemed to over-emphasize to “magic” of Terabithia while containing almost none of the real-world issues that continue to resonate with readers today. It took me a long time to see the movie because of those fears, but when I finally did, I was pleasantly surprised by how faithful of an adaptation it was. The performances from the  young actors are great and the film manages to evoke the same emotions the book does.  When I was in school, we watched the 1985 TV Movie version, which has a decidedly more low-budget aesthetic but still holds up as a decent version of this beloved novel.

Then there are less successful adaptations. The Dark is Rising, which became The Seeker: The Dark is Rising in 2007, is notoriously terrible, with a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Time Out London noting that Susan Cooper’s fans “…are appalled by what they see as this dumbed-down version.” It stands as a good example of how not to adapt a beloved and award-winning fantasy series.

What are your favorite Newbery movies? Are there any you’d love to see on the big screen?

 

The post First the Newbery, then the Cinema! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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30. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson Won’t Return For Fifty Shades Sequels

Fifty Shades TrilogyActors Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson may be set to return for adaptations of Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, but guess who won’t be coming back? Filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson has made a formal announcement about her future with this film series.

Despite the great box office success of the first movie, the director will not return to helm the next two film adaptations. For some, this may not be surprising considering the tense working relationship shared between Taylor-Johnson and writer E.L. James. According to The Huffington Post, “the Fifty Shades of Grey author clashed with Taylor-Johnson during production, a battle that was detailed throughout the film’s press tour earlier this year.”

In a statement shared with Deadline.com, Taylor-Johnson explained: “Directing Fifty Shades Of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful. I have Universal to thank for that. I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with Dakota and Jamie. While I will not be returning to direct the sequels, I wish nothing but success to whosoever takes on the exciting challenges of films two and three.” (via TheWrap.com)

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31. Gaye vs. Thicke: How blurred are the lines of copyright infringement?

“Blurred Lines” and Thicke’s overwhelming success have been eclipsed by the popularity of the recent federal court case, in which a jury decided that its creators infringed upon the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 Billboard Hot 100 chart topper, “Got to Give It Up.”

The post Gaye vs. Thicke: How blurred are the lines of copyright infringement? appeared first on OUPblog.

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32. Jeff Kinney’s 10th Wimpy Kid Book is Coming this Fall

The tenth book in Jeff Kinney‘s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is coming out this fall.

The currently unnamed title will hit bookstores Nov. 3.

“The tenth Wimpy Kid book gives me a chance to reset the series,” Kinney said in a statement. “I’ve thought a lot about what’s made these books work and how it all got started. So for me, personally, it’s back to basics. I’m carrying that theme through the book.”

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33. Agent Lydia Moëd of The Rights Factory On Getting to the Point and Why It's All About World Building

Lydia Moëd is an associate agent at The Rights Factory in Toronto. She came to Canada from the UK, where she worked as a foreign rights executive for UK children’s publishers. She has also worked as a freelance literary translator and editor, and as a bookseller at Foyles in London. In addition to handling foreign rights for The Rights Factory's children's and YA list, she is also building her own list of clients for representation. You can read her blog at lydiamoed.wordpress.com, and follow her on Twitter as @LydiaMoed.



What genres are you drawn to most?

I’m drawn to books in any genre that transport me - to another world, another planet, a different time or a foreign country. I have been known to read books set here and now occasionally, but every book on my list is set in some form of Elsewhere, and that’s how I like it.

What is on your wish list?

I say this all the time, but I think it’s important so I’m saying it again: I’m looking for different perspectives. Anybody who is interested in making my favourite genres less white, straight, and abled/ablist, who can contribute religious diversity or neurodiversity or any other kind of diversity, is particularly welcome to query me.

I’m interested in YA science fiction and fantasy as long as it isn’t too trope-y (no love triangles please). I’m always looking for well-researched historical fiction set in a less familiar time and place, and I’d be interested to see some alt-history with an unusual point of divergence from actual history. I keep a specific wish list on my blog here: https://lydiamoed.wordpress.com/wish-list/

What are some things you love to see in a query?

I love it when people get straight to the point. I don’t need any ‘I am querying you because…’ or any waffle about potential marketing opportunities or why you think your book would be successful – just hit me with your pitch and let it speak for itself. I need to see good writing, obviously, and I like a bio that gives a hint of the author’s personality – I want to know that you’re the kind of person I’ll enjoy working with.

What are some of the worst things you've seen in a query?

This is more of a ‘pet peeve’ than a ‘worst thing’, but I really hate insincere personalisation. When people have read somewhere that personalising your query is paramount, but they haven’t really stopped to think about how to do it effectively, they’ll often open their query with ‘I am querying you because of your love of urban fantasy’ or whatever (NB I don’t actually like urban fantasy and yet I see this exact opener pretty regularly). If you don’t have a real reason why you think we would be a good fit for one another, shoving in a throwaway sentence like that is not going to convince me that you do. As I said above, I don’t actually care that much about whether a query is explicitly personalised or not, so if you’re going to say something, say something sincere.

Character, world, or plot? 

Obviously all three are important, blah blah, but the one that grabs my attention most as an agent is actually world. Plenty of writers can write a good plot, a decent number can create characters that readers can connect with, but a unique and immersive world shows up in my slush pile very rarely, and when one does I find it hard to let it go.



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34. the yeeha of‏ inspiration

Post by Alice Palace

Alice Palace has been going now for nearly 11 years and the most common question I get asked is where do I find my inspiration – so I have been thinking of the answer, and have 11 yeeha’s to help…

 

alicepalace_cowboy

 

1. Going horse riding is the best thing to help me with my creativity because it gets me outside – the fresh air always helps and my mind is free to wander. It’s about occupying one part of my brain, so the the other part is clear to be creative. It makes me feel happy and the more happy I am, the more creative ideas I have.
- So spend time doing the things you love most in life.
2. The same thing happens when I’m in the car driving by myself and listening/singing along to music. I find it’s a good time to tune out and spend some time inside my own head with my own thoughts. The same thing happens when I wash up – which is why we don’t have a dishwasher!
- So spend some time alone to daydream – your brain needs time for inactivity.
3. If I start work on any illustration idea, then more ideas will follow, and from those ideas there will be even more ideas – it’s just the way it works – but I need to get started in the first place. My main problem is not the lack of ideas, but making myself physically get started with them. Creativity is like a tap and needs to be used to keep it flowing.
- So do whatever you need to do to get started, draw up a timetable, make up some deadlines, pretend the Queen is over for a visit… and then start drawing.
4.  I find I have to do every pointless job there is, before I can start my illustration work – but having a good tidy up of my work area does really help – and then I just have to be super strict. But if I’m having one of those days when the drawings just aren’t right, then I’ll do something completely different for a while as I know that on another day I will do the whole thing much quicker and better.
- So stop if your hearts not in it (and return to it later/the next day).
5. Spending time with inspiring and inquisitive people is great for my own inspiration – anyone that I look up to for whatever reason – can really help with my own ideas.
- So spend time with friends and family (and strangers) that make you tick.
6. I find that walking to work with the dogs is a great start to the day and I love taking photos along the way. I like to look at the world in detail – seeing everything that looks beautiful to me, seeing colours and shapes, changes in the day, that might otherwise be missed.
- So start the day well and you’re more likely to create.
alicepalace_everythingIsAwesome
7. Watching films and reading books also helps to feed my inspiration. I get a monthly magazine subscription to ‘Red’ which is not only a nice surprise every month, but also helps to keep me up to date with fashion, homes and trends. I like ‘The simple things’ magazine too.
- So ask all your inspiring people about their favourites, and make a list, and get watching/reading.
8. Exhibiting at shows really helps me to stay inspired as I see them as an opportunity to show off my illustrations & products, and to get feedback – without these dates in the diary it would be easy to float along without any set deadlines. It’s also a time when I see impressive work by other people, and that inspires me to come up with something equally impressive next time.
- So get yourself out there.
9. Keeping a notebook really helps me – as I seek inspiration from all sorts of sources and I can write down ideas/words and keep them all safe. I’m always on the lookout for the little everyday things, observing people, watching films, dreams I have, reading books, conversations I have, a sentence I read/hear. If I’m really stuck for ideas, then I can look through and see drawings, doodles, scribbles about the weather, the mood I am in, the last time I laughed etc.
- So keep a sketchbook/notebook.
10. It’s good for me to have a routine and I try to have set working hours. I have to be disciplined because there are so many distractions these days with email, mobile, twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest etc – not to mention the everyday life stuff like cooking, cleaning, looking after the dogs and my small child. The other day one of my friends asked me how I make myself go to work everyday and I found it a hard question to answer on the spot, but after thinking about it, I realised that I must just be pretty disciplined, and enjoy my work! It doesn’t seem like an option to me to not go.
- It’s so easy to let your life get filled up with other stuff, so a routine is really important.
11. If I’m not enjoying an illustration I’m working on, then generally it doesn’t work as well and I need to find a different approach, or just start something new. The BIGGEST thing of all is to enjoy the creation and trust your instinct. I find that the illustrations that work best are the ones that I enjoy doing most.
- To be truly inspired you need to trust your instinct and enjoy what you are creating, and it will show.
alicepalace_EnjoyTheCreation
See more Alice Palace illustrations here

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35. Dogs in digital cinema

Supplementing real dogs with digital animation produces performances that have benefits on many different levels. Firstly, they are much more effective dramatically because they can become more anthropomorphically expressive to suit the needs of the story. Economically they are less time-consuming and therefore less expensive because the performance is no longer determined by the unpredictable or intractable volition of real animals, however ‘well-trained’. The problems that arise even when working with ‘professional’ dog actors can be exasperating.

The post Dogs in digital cinema appeared first on OUPblog.

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36. StoryCorps Founder Dave Isay Gives Talk at TED 2015 Conference

StoryCorps founder and author Dave Isay has been chosen as the winner of this year’s TED Prize. This award comes with a one million dollar cash prize.

Isay recently delivered a talk at the TED 2015 conference called “Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear.”  We’ve embedded a video showcasing the entire presentation above—what do you think?

Traditionally, those who win the TED Prize share a wish with the world. According to the TED Blog, Isay hopes “that you will help us to take everything we’ve learned through StoryCorps and bring it to the world so that anyone, anywhere, can easily record a meaningful interview with another human being, which then will be archived for history.”

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37. Guest Post & Giveaway: Ann Angel on The Power of Secrets in Things I’ll Never Say

Ann Angel
By Ann Angel
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Right about the time I pitched my first anthology, a writer friend said she’d hate that sort of work.

“It would be so time-consuming to read all those stories,” she said. “I can’t imagine having to edit all that content and you’ll have to write all that front and back matter and it will take away from your own writing.”

Even thought everything she said is true, I love editing anthologies. The reading can sometimes feel overwhelming and selecting stories is time consuming; editing requires right-brained analytic work and lots and lots of analyzing and thinking and rethinking.

While editing anthologies takes huge chunks of time away from personal writing time, there are so many good reasons to take them on.

Anthologies provide diverse viewpoints on a single topic, and they provide broad and unexpected stories in a single volume.

The best reason I choose to edit an anthology is that I get to take a topic that has far reaching consequences and bring a varied perspectives into the world of young adults. This varied perspective provides young adults the benefit of observing a variety of responses to a single concept while also helping them figure out how they might think about and respond to the concept themselves.

That wider view is what motivated me to take on media’s perspective of beauty with my first anthology, Such a Pretty Face, Short Stories About Beauty (Abrams, 2007).

More recently, after volunteering at a writing workshop for survivors of domestic violence and trafficking, I was motivated to take on the idea that secrets shape who we are and who we will become in the anthology Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves (Candlewick, 2015).

The best part of reading stories for this project was to realize the many layers of secrets. It appears some secrets can be innocent while others hold us hostage to the person whose secret we share. Secrets can be playful and funny or dark and dangerous.

I had expected some of the stories of secrets to show that keeping secrets can shame us into permanent silence.

But I was delighted to receive funny and sweet stories. Cynthia Leitich Smith wrote about an angel falling in love with her tale of Josh in “Cupid’s Beaux.” Although the humor was a bit darker, Ron Koertge’s “Call Me” developed the California voice of a wild teen girl who hides a slew of secret boyfriends from one another.

In contrast, I was heartbroken by the story of a girl who hides her mother’s hording in “The We-Are-Like-Everybody-Else Game” by Ellen Wittlinger. Other heartbreaks portraying the power of our secrets can be found in Louise Hawes’ “When We Were Wild” and Kerry Cohen’s “Partial Reinforcement.”

I learned the power of reporting a secret to protect a friend in “A Thousand Words,” from Varian Johnson. Chris Lynch’s “Lucky Buoy” showed that the darkest secret’s power is diminished if you reveal it to just one person who cares, while Mary Ann Rodman’s “Easter” was a sensitive portrayal of a teen choosing to keep the secret of adoption for his baby boy.

Ann with fellow author P.J. Hoover at Texas Book Festival
Another reason I like editing anthologies is that each call for stories allows me to glimpse inside each writer’s diverse creative process around a singular topic or similar concept.

While writers might all begin heading toward a similar plot problem, I’ve observed that the most cliché idea takes on a new un-clichéd life through distinct characters or in the way the story is set and carried out.

For instance, two writers might take on a secret surrounding sexuality, but the story takes on new life if it’s set in a fantastical world which occurs in Katie Moran’s “Little Wolf and the Iron Pin” as well as in Zoe Marriott’s “Storm Clouds Fleeing from the Wind.”

Other times writers push the envelope on a story so that readers get a glimpse inside the most dysfunctional—and well hidden--moments in a family which is what E.M. Kokie did with her story “Quick Change,” Kekla Magoon accomplished in “For a Moment Underground,” and J.L. Powers did in “A Crossroads.”

In observing how different writers’ work their minds around a problem, and in closely observing how they craft action and scene around the concept, it shouldn’t be a surprise that each writer brings his or her own sensibility to a story, almost always turning it into an intensely personal experience that resonates with readers.

With fellow alumnae Sarah Aronson at VCFA
One of the most pleasant surprised about this anthology was seeing the cover for the first time. Created by collage artist Wayne Brezinka, this cover made me tear up over the rich and layered depiction of our secret stories.

This anthology also demonstrated the power of sharing our gifts and secrets. The teaching authors included were asked to invite one past student to submit a story for possible selection.

In the end, the selected story is the heartbreaking tale of a girl who parents her own mother and protects her little sister from a family secret. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to erase the image of a teenager dancing a slow waltz to Meatloaf songs with her drunken mother. While erica l. kaufman’s “Three-Four Time” may be one of her first publications, watch for this talented writer’s future work, as it won’t be her last.

Finally, I wrote a story based upon an idea that came out of the workshop that spawned this anthology. “We Were Together” looks at what happens when a boy loves girls too much. I have to admit I was seriously pleased when one of Candlewick’s editors responded that it’s refreshing to read something from the jerk’s perspective.

I hope you find each story refreshing, emotionally resonant and a great joy to read.

Cynsational Notes

Ann Angel loves the world of young adults and writes both fiction and nonfiction for this group. She is the author of the 2011 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award winner Janis Joplin, Rise Up Singing (Abrams, 2010) among many other biographies.

Her most recent biography, for younger audiences, is Adopted Like Me, My Book of Adopted Heroes (Kingsley, 2013). Previously, she served as contributing editor for the anthology Such a Pretty Face, Short Stories About Beauty (Abrams, 2007).

A graduate of Vermont College’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Ann directs the English Graduate Program and teaches writing at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee where she lives with her family. She was drawn to this idea of Things I’ll Never Say because she believes that the secret self is often the true self.

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of  Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves by Ann Angel (Candlewick, 2015). Publisher sponsored. U.S. only. From the promotional copy:

Fifteen top young-adult authors let us in on provocative secrets in a fascinating collection that will have readers talking.

A baby no one knows about. A dangerous hidden identity. Off-limits hookups. A parent whose problems your friends won’t understand. 

Everyone keeps secrets—from themselves, from their families, from their friends—and secrets have a habit of shaping the lives around them. 

Acclaimed author Ann Angel brings together some of today’s most gifted YA authors to explore, in a variety of genres, the nature of secrets: Do they make you stronger or weaker? Do they alter your world when revealed? Do they divide your life into what you’ll tell and what you won’t? 

The one thing these diverse stories share is a glimpse into the secret self we all keep hidden.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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38. The “Activity Gap”: More thoughts on libraries and after-school programs

Back in October 2014, I wrote about a report entitled: “America After 3 PM.” The Afterschool Alliance was writing about how students spend their time after school. In it, I raised the point of libraries as hubs for after-school activities, a free spot for teens to come if they don’t have the resources or access to other after-school programs. At the end of January, Alia Wong from Atlantic wrote an article called “The Activity Gap,” which discusses the access issues students from various socio-economic classes face with participating in after-school and extracurricular programs.

Wong begins the article by comparing two different students, Ethan and Nicole, whose family backgrounds contribute to two different lifestyles and life paths. While their names have been changed, these two students do exist and were case studies in a study published in Voices of Urban Education. This national study was conducted by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute of School Reform.

Their results are nothing we didn’t already know. The article states the researchers were “alarmed” at the results, but we’ve been seeing and hearing about this growing income achievement gap for a while. I come back to the same question I raised in my October 2014 blog post: how can libraries help?

I can offer an example of a space happening in my community at the Urbana Free Library. Our library is able to offer a Teen Open Lab a couple days a week. The auditorium in the library is opened up and staff and teens set up essentially a mini-Fab Lab/makerspace/hangout area. It’s a spot where teens can come after school, hang out, or create anything from stickers on a Silhouette cutting machine, to using a 3D printer, video and audio production, or simply playing Minecraft or video games. The library has been able to provide another space for teens to go who might not have other after-school options.

Is this a great space? I think so. I visited there a few weeks back (my assistantship has a graduate student helping out at the Teen Open Lab so I went for a visit). The atmosphere was exciting. The teens seemed to be happy. They’ve reached a point in the Teen Open Lab where things are going well and they can keep thinking about where does this space go next. But, we can’t forget the process and time it took to get from point A (the teens had little space) to the idea of the lab, to the creation (and funding), and now the maintaining and sustaining. Perhaps what the Urbana Library Teen Open Lab teaches us is that we need to start having those conversations. If we look out at our community and see that our teens need a free space, we can start having those conversations about what a space for them might look like. I think it’s fine to say, “Look we have this income achievement gap and need to do something about it” but we need to do more than just say it. And maybe libraries aren’t the spot, maybe this conversation is meant for a broader audience, pulling in our education system and college admission process (which places value in extra-curricular activities and involvement outside of the classroom). What I’ve been thinking about in my community engagement class this semester is that libraries are the hub to have those frank conversations. We can open up a space to bring a community together to talk. We’ve been doing it since we first began as public institutions.

The Atlantic article does not offer many solutions and I am not sure I have many to offer either. I still think this is an important conversation to have, but we need to continue to think about the broader context and how we can help or at least provide resources to help. For additional resources on this topic, make sure to check out YALSA’s Professional Tool page on their website. Additionally, you can look at, Cool Teen Programs for Under $100, resources on YALSA’s Wiki page about Maker and DIY Programs, Making in the Library Toolkit, or A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces.

Do you have any ideas about how we can bridge this activity gap? I would love to hear your thoughts (or great articles to read and resources to use) in the comments below!

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39. Thunder Road Nabs Film Rights to The Detainee

The DetaineeThunder Road and Film House Germany has picked up the movie rights to Peter Liney’s The Detainee. Screenwriter Grant Pierce Myers has been hired to adapt the novel for a script.

This dystopian fiction novel, the first in a trilogy, was written for adult readers. Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Quercus Publishing, released it back in March 2014.

Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “Set in the near future, The Detainee stands apart from recent glut of dystopian films by making the heroes older adults. The story follows ‘Big Guy’ Clancy, who along with the rest of society’s ‘waste,’ has been shipped to the island, a desolate outpost where satellites mete out instant punishment on those who break the rules or try to escape. Worse are the nights when fog prevents the satellites from working, and young gangs conduct terrifying raids. But when Clancy encounters a younger blind woman living in a secret network of underground tunnels, there is suddenly a chance for the elderly to fight back.”

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40. 5 BookBuzzr Widget Installations To Inspire You In March 2015

1. Liesbeth Heenk – Hermitage Amsterdam: Highlights from the Hermitage Museum St Petersburg

Liesbeth Heenk

 
2. Maxine Douglas – By the Blue Moon (Blue Moon Magic Book 1)

Maxine Douglas

 
3. Marguerite Arnold – Green: The First 12 Months Of Modern American Marijuana Reform

Marguerite Arnold

 
4. Rick Blaisdell – One Life to Give-Living Water for Thirsty Souls

Rick Blaisdell

 
5. Staci Troilo – Type and Cross

Staci Troilo

 

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41. Maude Returns to Top of Self-Published Bestsellers List

Maude by Donna Mabry has returned to the No. 1 slot on the Self-Published Bestsellers List this week.

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

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

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

Amazon Self-Published Bestsellers for the Week of March 25, 2015

1. Maude by Donna Mabry: “In 1906, I was barely over fourteen years old, and it was my wedding day. My older sister, Helen, came to my room, took me by the hand, and sat me down on the bed. She opened her mouth to say something, but then her face flushed, and she turned her head to look out the window. After a second, she squeezed my hand and looked back in my eyes.”

2. Fisher’s Light by Tara Sivec: “I guess this is it, huh? After fourteen years together, starting a life of our own on this island, five deployments and countless letters I’ve written you through it all, I finally go out to the mailbox and see something I’ve always dreamed of: an envelope with your handwriting on it.”

3. My Stepbrother the Dom by Arabella Quinn: “For years, I had the worst crush on my stepbrother, Cole Hunter. We used to ride bikes, skateboard and go fishing together – now I couldn’t even be in the same room as him without my pulse racing. One cocky half-grin from Cole would have my face blushing while my panties melted. It was insane – and completely humiliating.”

4. Married to the Bad Boy by Vanessa Waltz: “I’m a player. A man whore. Whatever the hell you want to call it, I get around. During the day I crack heads and extort businesses. At night I find girls to f*ck. I live to hear them moan for me, but one night is all they get. No one ever made me want more.”

5. Shopping for a Billionaire Boxed Set by Julia Kent: “No? So it really is just me. Hmm. When you’re a mystery shopper, you get paid to humiliate yourself, all in the name of improving customer service. Romance isn’t in my job description.”

6. Revved by Samantha Towle: “Race car mechanic Andressa \"Andi\" Amaro has one rule—no dating drivers. With a good reason behind the rule, she has no plans on breaking it. Carrick Ryan is the bad boy of Formula One. With a face and body that melts panties on sight, and an Irish lilt that leaves women on their knees, begging for more. He races hard and parties harder.”

7. Departure by A.G. Riddle: \"Flight 305 took off in 2014…But it crashed in a world very different from our own…With time running out, five strangers must unravel why they were taken…And how to get home.\"

8. Falling For My Best Friend’s Brother by J.S. Cooper: “He’s devastatingly handsome, sexy, arrogant and he’s out of reach. He’s my best friend’s brother and the one man I can’t have. However, now that my best friend Liv is getting married, I’m seeing him more than ever.”

9. The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller by A.G. Riddle: “The Immari are good at keeping secrets. For 2,000 years, they’ve hidden the truth about human evolution. They’ve also searched for an ancient enemy–a threat that could wipe out the human race. Now the search is over.”

10. The Hurricane by R.J. Prescott: “Emily McCarthy is living in fear of a dark and dangerous past. A gifted mathematician, she is little more than a hollow, broken shell, trying desperately to make ends meet long enough to finish her degree.”

Smashwords Self-Published Bestsellers for the Week of March 25, 2015

1. Communications for ICT: The Essential Guide By David Tuffley

2. Private Practice Preparedness – The Health Care Professional’s Guide to Closing a Practice Due to Retirement, Death, or Disability By Rob Reinhardt, LPCS, M.Ed., NCC & Anne M. “Nancy” Wheeler

3. Negotiating for Success: Essential Strategies and Skills By George J. Siedel

4. Anela Bay ~ Book Three ~ Evolution By Cheryl L. Hyde

5. The Caphenon By Fletcher DeLancey

6. Winter in Tirane: The Stories of Jiri Kajane By Jiri Kajane

7. Our Universal Journey By George Kavassilas

8. Wedding Favors By Josh Lanyon

9. The Prodigal’s Perspective By Bob Steinkamp

10. The Generous Qur’an: An accurate, modern English translation of the Qur’an, Islam’s holiest book. By Usama Dakdok

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42. Obama Loved Comics as a Kid

Barack Obama revealed a childhood love for comic books this week in an email he sent to constituents, soliciting Organizing for Action supporters to share how they got involved with the president’s organization.

“Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman,”  he wrote in the email. “Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story — the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.”

The email encourages recipients to share the story of how they got involved in his movement. The winning writer gets to meet the president in DC.

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43. Steven Spielberg to Direct Ready Player One Adaptation

Steven Spielberg has signed on to direct a film adaptation of Ready Player One, the 2011 cult sci-fi favorite by Ernest Cline, according to a report on Deadline.com.

The book has a lot of potential for the big screen. It is about one man’s experience trying to win the lottery in a virtual video game that players inhabit to escape their bleak realities. The story is set in 2044 inside a virtual world.

The paperback edition comes out in June.

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44. ‘Montauk’ Poetry Video Goes Viral

Sarah Kay, a spoken word poet and the founder of the Project V.O.I.C.E. organization, recited a piece called \"Montauk\" at Inner City Arts. The Button Poetry YouTube channel posted a video (embedded above) featuring Kay’s performance and it has drawn more than 27,000 views.

Kay drew inspiration for this piece from a line found in Richard Siken’s poem, \"Detail of the Woods.\" Follow these links to listen to a reading of Kay’s poem “The Type” and her talk on the TED stage.

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45. Review of the Day: Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower
By Greg Pizzoli
Viking (an imprint of Penguin Group USA)
$17.99
ISBN: 978-0-670-01652-5
Ages 8-11
On shelves now

I was listening to a favorite podcast of mine the other day when the panelists began discussing the difference between heist films and con man films.  A heist film is one where the entire movie is a build-up to a great and fabulous heist.  Ocean’s 11 and that sort of thing.  In the children’s book world this would be The Great Greene Heist.  A con man film is different.  There you have a single individual, and not necessarily a heroic one either.  Catch Me If You Can is a con man film.  And on the children’s book side?  Honestly, we don’t have a lot of them.  Maybe Pickle by Kim Baker but that’s a stretch.  It really wasn’t until I laid eyes on Greg Pizzoli’s Tricky Vic that I could appreciate what I had been missing all these years.  Told with a relaxed easygoing style, Pizzoli takes one of the world’s most notorious individuals in the con game, and refuses to humanize him.  Here we see a character that was larger than life.  Makes sense that he’d try to sell a structure that was in many ways his equal.

In 1890 he was born Robert Miller, but that didn’t last.  Names came and went and by the time he was an adult, Miller was a professional gambler turned con artist.  His preferred method of payment was gambling on transatlantic ocean liners but then along came WWI and Miller, now calling himself Count Victor Lustig, needed a new occupation.  Through a little low level trickery he got the blessing of Al Capone and then set about bilking the easy rich.  But his greatest feat, and the one that would put him down in the history books, was his successful con of “selling” the Eiffel Tower to prospective buyers.  Though in time he was eventually caught and jailed (in Alcatraz, no less), Vic’s odd life shines a spotlight on those individuals willing to get ahead on our own greed and misplaced hope.  Backmatter includes an Author’s Note, Glossary, Selected Sources, and a note on the art.

Every great picture book biography finds something about an individual that is interesting to child readers.  In The Boy Who Loved Math it was Paul Erdos’s sheer enthusiasm and childlike goofiness.  In The Noisy Paintbox it was Kandinsky’s ability to translate sound to sight and back again.  And in Tricky Vic it’s shamelessness.  Kids don’t often encounter, in any form, adults that unapologetically do wrong.  Vic ultimately pays for his crimes, and in many ways that’s the only way you can get away with what Pizzoli is doing here.  You see, the trouble with con man storylines is that they’re just too much fun.  You can’t help but root for Vic when he pulls the old Romanian Money Box scheme or when he cons the great Al Capone himself.  Really one of the few objections I’ve heard lobbed against the book is a question as to whether or not kids will have any interest in an obscure two-bit criminal.  But like all great nonfiction authors for kids, Pizzoli knows that children’s biographies do not begin and end with Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln.  Sometimes kids appreciate far more the biographies of the people who didn’t go about with halos hovering around their ears.  There’s room on our shelves for the baddies.

Now when Greg Pizzoli debuted with his picture book The Watermelon Seed two years ago, there was nothing to indicate to me that he had any inclination to go the nonfiction route.  “The Watermelon Seed” utilizes a three-color print job and distinctly retro aesthetic.  That aesthetic remains intact in Tricky Vic but Pizzoli but the technique has been cranked up to eleven.  In “A Note About the Art in This Book” at the back, Pizzoli says that the illustrations seen here were “created using pencil, ink, rubber stamps, halftone photographs, silkscreen, Zipatone, and Photoshop.” The end result is a book that straddles the line between those picture books actually concocted in the 1930s and a distinctly contemporary creation.

Dig a little deeper and Pizzoli’s illustration choices go beyond mere novelty.  The choice to render Vic’s head as a thumbprint has so many different uses.  With a mere change in tone or color, Pizzoli can render his personality and character different from one page to the next.  This chameleon of a man couldn’t ask for better representation.  But much of the success of the book lies in how it tackles the question of Vic as a bad person.  Pizzoli’s choice to make Vic expressionless throughout the book is key to this.  Because kids aren’t exactly reading about a role model, it’s important that Vic never look like he’s having too much fun.  Remove his mouth and eyes and voila!  An instant blank slate on which to project your storyline.  Let the facts speak for themselves.

And speaking of facts, in no time in our nation’s history have picture book biographies for children fallen under as much scrutiny as they do today.  Time was the D’Aulaires could write varying fictional accounts of everyone from Pocahontas to Abraham Lincoln and win Caldecotts for their efforts.  These days, the debate rages around how much an author is allowed to do and the crux of that debate centers on made up dialogue.  I am firmly of the opinion that made up dialogue is unnecessary in a children’s book biography.  However, when handled creatively, there are exceptions to every rule.  And “Tricky Vic” is, if nothing else, vastly creative.  If you read the book the actual text is all factual.  There is some mucking about with the timeline of one of the major events in Vic’s life, but Pizzoli comes clean about that in his Author’s Note in the back, and I give a lot of credit to folks who fess up plainly.  Getting back to the text, look a little closer and you’ll see that there is some made up dialogue but Pizzoli keeps it at a minimum and gives it its own separate space.  Little speech balloons between the characters will occasionally crop up at the bottom of the pages.  The feeling is that these are interstitial fictional bits that simply support the rest of the text.  A reader doesn’t walk away from them thinking that they’re strict representations of the past.  They are, instead, a little colorful complement to the text to give it a lighter bouncier feel.

I recently conducted a Salon in my library on children’s nonfiction picture book illustration and historical accuracy.  During the course of the talk we discussed Vincent Kirsch’s work on Gingerbread for Liberty and the times when a bouncier, more light-hearted feel to the illustrations best fit the text.  In Tricky Vic Pizzoli isn’t going for a meticulous reconstruction of past events in his art.  He’s going for something with a historical feel, but with fun built in as well.  The design elements are what really step things up a notch.  I also loved the factual sidebars that complemented the text but never dominate.  As kids read they encounter sections talking about Prohibition, The Tower’s Critics (the folks who hated it from the get-go, that is), the Hotel de Crillon, Counterfeiting, and Alcatraz.  The end result is as dynamic as it is informative.

I wonder vaguely if this book will receive any challenges from concerned parents living in the mistaken belief that Pizzoli has penned a How To manual for little budding criminals.  As I mentioned before, the line between celebrating your biographical picture book subject and simply reporting on their life is thin.  The beauty of Tricky Vic, I think, is that his life is just as wild and weird as any fictional character.  There is value in showing kids the fools of the past.  I don’t think anyone will walk away from this thinking Vic had it all figured out, but I do think a fair number of them might want to follow-up on Pizzoli’s Selected Sources for a little independent reading of their own.  And if this book encourages just one kid to rethink their attitude towards nonfiction, then this title has earned its place in the world.  The gorgeous art and great writing are just gravy.  For one.  For all.  Un-forgettable.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Other Blog Reviews: 100 Scope Notes

Professional Reviews: The New York Times

Interviews: Greg Pizzoli discusses his technique at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

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46. RUCKUS by Kathleen Jennings

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Submitted by Kathleen Jennings for the Illustration Friday topic RUCKUS.

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47. Lament of an educator/parent

My seventeen-year-old son has just completed fifteen examinations in the course of two weeks. They varied in length – some in excess of three hours, with a half hour break before the next exam – and we are still feeling the fallout from this veritable onslaught.

The post Lament of an educator/parent appeared first on OUPblog.

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48. Neil Gaiman Praised Terry Pratchett for Going Public

Author Neil Gaiman had a huge amount of respect for how his friend, the late  Terry Pratchett responded to a diagnosis with early onset rear brain alzheimer’s in 2007.

In a recent discussion about Pratchett with author Michael Chabon, Gaiman said: “He did something huge and noble, which was after his diagnosis, he went public and he went loud. He risked being trivialized.”

Here is an excerpt from the discussion:

Terry was someone who fought for years to get people to understand that funny and serious are not opposites. The opposite of funny is not funny. You can absolutely be funny and serious at the same time and Terry was.

So here is somebody who has fought to be taken seriously and to make people realize that you can write a serious novel set in a fantasy context on the back of elephants on the back a giant turtle floating through space and it can still be a real novel and he’s got there. He’s won the Carnegie Medal. He’s got serious critical attention and now he risks losing it, but he did. He announced it to the world and he used it to an opportunity to start the dialog.

(Via Electric Literature).

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49. Three Questions With Christopher Cheng: Advice for young writers, office chops and PYTHON

Christopher Cheng is an award-winning Australian author of more than 40 children's books and is a co-chair of the International Advisory Board for the SCBWI. I met Chris through the SCBWI, and I love his enthusiasm and positive energy. Pictured above: Chris with a python (!) as well as his narrative non-fiction picture book, PYTHON. Python was written by Chris, illustrated by Mark Jackson, and was published by Candlewick; it was shortlisted in the 2013 Children's Book Council Of The Year awards.

You can find more info about Chris at his website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

Synopsis of PYTHON:

Python stirs and slithers out from her shelter, smelling the air with her forked tongue. It’s time to molt her dull scales and reveal the glistening snake underneath. Gliding along a tree, she stops and watches very, very closely as a bird drops onto a branch — and escapes the razor-sharp teeth just in time. But Python is hungry, so she slides on to stalk new prey. Combining informative facts, expressive illustrations, and a lyrical, mesmerizing narrative, here is a book to captivate anyone fascinated by this iconic creature.

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

A photo of SOMETHING in my office - was that SOMETHING or ONEthing or ANYthing? Well, because I am never good at following instructions (can you write the manuscript to 35000 words - sure … and then I submit a 55000 word manuscript that was published), I just have to send you two.

First, my CHOP!

This is me (as you can tell from the side … but there is also actually my Chinese name on the base that I use to ‘chop’ my books when I am signing them at home.

If I am travelling, I have a mini version of this - it's my travelling chop! and then here is the photo of the creatures bordering my desk … I lurve having these:

 

Q. What advice do you have for young writers?

Five letters, sounds like LIGHT …. WRITE!

Do it every day.

Do it for fun -

WRITE anything that comes in to your head;
WRITE what you heard your big sister say on the telephone last night when she thought she was speaking in secret;
WRITE what you wish to do;
WRITE what you want to do;
WRITE what your IMAGINATION tells you to write.
just WRITE.

And when you write, edit what you write … don’t make it a ramble (unless it is supposed to be). Sometimes later (it might be after your initial thoughts, it might be after a day or so - on the day you set aside as the reviewing day) go back and rewrite your work. Write about what makes you happy. Write about what makes you sad. Write about … what you are too afraid to write about!

And when you write, giggle and laugh and cry and moan and weep and slobber … get into the skin of your character. BE your character. Ask the questions what would (your character) do?

And ENJOY what you are doing.

Q What are you excited about right now?

Joining the throng of folk that Debbie is interviewing.
Life … I love hanging out with others of my kind - children’s book people.
Reading new books by my friends - like Samantha Berger, and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, and Isabel Roxas and … and SCBWI - we are a beautiful tribe.

------
For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

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50. Beethoven’s diagnosis

Since Beethoven’s death on this day 188 years ago, debate has raged as to the cause of his deafness, generating scores of diagnoses ranging from measles to Paget’s disease. If deafness had been his only problem, diagnosing the disorder might have been easier, although his ear problem was of a strange character no longer seen. It began ever so surreptitiously and took over two decades to complete its destruction of Beethoven’s hearing.

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