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Results 26 - 50 of 236,835
26. LODESTAR Official Launch Party Details

Here we go again, guys.

We're about five weeks away from LODESTAR launching into the world.


And like always, I have TONS of updates coming up, including the pre-order swag giveaway details and my final tour dates and locations. (you can actually find most of the tour info already on my events page if you're curious, but I'm still waiting on a couple of pieces of info so I'm waiting until I have EVERYTHING until I make an official post.)

I've also be sharing character art on social media--and have teasers coming up next month--so if you aren't following me on Instagram, you might wanna click HERE so you don't miss out)

And for those of you in SoCal (or thinking of visiting SoCal in November), here's the info for the official Launch Party:

And in case that graphic isn't loading for some reason, here are the details again in plain text:

Tuesday, 11/1/16
7:00 pm
Barnes &Noble Montclair Plaza
5183 Montclair Plaza Ln.
Montclair, CA 91763

And this year we're doing things a *little* differently. Since the signing line can get CRAZY long, we'll be using wristbands to make it easier for you guys. Don't worry--walk-ins the day of the event are still totally welcome. But if you want to make sure they don't run out of books and you'd like a guaranteed spot toward the front of the signing line, you can call (909)399-1966 and reserve your wristband for the event. Think of it as a Disneyland FastPass--only even more magical*

*okay, it's probably NOT more magical than Disneyland--can we call it a close second?

Wristbands will be organized into groups, so the sooner you call and reserve yours, the closer you'll be to the front of the line. Even better--it'll give us a better idea of how many cupcakes to bring (since we always seem to run out within minutes o.0) And the cupcakes this year are going to be SO GOOD--more on that later--so we want to make sure we have enough.

And as if free cupcakes aren't awesome enough, everyone who comes to the launch party and buys a copy of LODESTAR will get one of these shiny Verdi on Duty buttons (in addition to all the other swaggish goodies you'll see me talking about for the pre-order giveaway)

For those who don't live in SoCal or can't come to the launch, there will be a few other chances to get one of these buttons, but getting a wristband for the Launch Party guarantees you'll get one that night! (and those without wristbands at the launch party will most likely get one too--but the only way to guarantee it is to get the wristband, so seriously, call ahead and reserve yours!)

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comments section below. Otherwise mark those calendars for 11/1/16.

And ....  that's it for now. But like I said--stay tuned. Soooooooooooooooooo many more exciting things are coming up over the next few weeks. 

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27. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 241 - 9.26.16

After Leonardo da Vinci's Man in a Circle, Illustrating Proportions. And regarding "proportions" a few quick facts: 10% of the Earth's wilderness has disappeared since the 1990's - and only 23% of remaining land is considered wilderness. Please, President Obama, consider adding the Arctic Refuge permanently to those rolls by designating the coastal plain a national monument.

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28. "Calling All Authors": My Blog Tour Begins

My new middle grade novel, Write This Down, enters the world today. All my book children are dear to my heart, but this book might be especially dear because it's about a seventh-grade girl who is an aspiring writer, and I was once that same seventh-grade girl, give or take. I loved to write the way that Autumn does, and I sought publication in every venue I could find, though back then the only serials I was familiar with were The Reader's Digest and Ideals Magazine: both sent me plenty of rejections.

In writing the book I also drew on my philosopher/ethicist self by giving Autumn the moral dilemma most authors face at some time or another in our careers: how much should we write about our own lives, where this also means writing about the lives of our loved ones? If we don't draw on material from our own experience, our stories can feel artificial and contrived. But if we do, they can feel like - and be? - a betrayal. "To publish or not to publish?" is the hard choice Autumn faces at the end of the novel.

I'm lucky enough that the wonderful publicist at my publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux has organized a blog tour for Write This Down, which begins today. So I'll be sharing all kinds of thoughts about the creation of the book - including snippets of my own childhood writing - on the sites of six generous bloggers who will take turns hosting me all week long.

Here's the lineup:

September 27: Ruth Ayers Writes

September 28: Charting by the Stars

September 29: Two Writing Teachers

September 30: Daydream Reader

October 1: The Brain Lair

October 2: Maria's Mélange

Come visit!

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29. Coloring Page Tuesday - Hobbit Ewok

     This thank you card was for one of the interns who helped us out at Hollins University this past summer. She struck me as somebody who was into Star Wars and maybe The Hobbit too - so out came this Ewok Hobbit. Strange? What do you think the key is all about? Hmmm.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of six literary awards. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

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30. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 240 - 9.26.16

Excited that fall is finally here -- and that the sea ice can begin to freeze again in Arctic waters!

0 Comments on Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 240 - 9.26.16 as of 9/27/2016 2:25:00 AM
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31. हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन

हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन आज है. गूगल सर्च इंजन एक शानदार जरिया है जानकारी पाने का . Happy Birth day Google.26 सितम्बर को गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन मना रहा है. Happy Birthday  पर गूगल ने अपना स्‍पेशल डूडल जारी किया है. क्या है गूगल का इतिहास  हैप्पी बर्थ […]

The post हैप्पी बर्थ डे गूगल – गूगल का 18वां जन्मदिन appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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32. Finding an Agent

The first step in finding an agent is to decide what you want in an agent.


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33. प्रकृति से प्रेम करो

प्राकृतिक विरासत की सूची में शामिल हुए पेड राजधानी के प्रसिद्ध, वर्षों पुराने और ऐतिहासिक 18 पेड़ों को प्राकृतिक विरासत की सूची में शामिल किया है इससे जहां प्रकृति की रक्षा होगी वही प्रकृति से प्रेम करो का सबक भी मिलेगा  .पर्यावरण का ख्याल रखते हुए ये फैसला लिया गया है.. पर्यावरण की सुरक्षा की शानदार […]

The post प्रकृति से प्रेम करो appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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34. Author Interview: Monique Gray Smith on My Heart Fills With Happiness & Advice for Beginning Writers

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Today I'm honored to feature Monique Gray Smith, "a mixed heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent" and the author one of my favorite new titles--my official go-to gift book for 2016.

What put you on the path to writing for young readers?

I never set out to write for young readers and to be honest, I never saw myself as a writer.

When Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience first came out, it was marketed to adults, but then it won the Canadian Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature.

This award sends 2500 copies of the winning book to schools and programs across the country, and all of a sudden, Tilly was in the hands of young people, in schools, classrooms and friendship centres and it became a YA book.

Congratulations on the release of one of my favorite new titles, My Heart Fills with Happiness, illustrated by Julie Flett (Orca, 2016)! What was your original inspiration for this title?

Thank you for your kind words about My Heart Fills. Working with Julie was a true privilege. We spoke on many occasions about the message and illustrations; it was a beautiful collaboration.

My Heart Fills with Happiness was inspired when I was facilitating a workshop on our history and resilience at an Aboriginal Head Start program.

At lunch, the children joined us and I witnessed a Kookum (Grandma) sitting in her chair and her grandson came running over to her. He stood in front of her and she took his face in his hands and his whole body changed. His shoulders went back, his chin came up and his eyes lit up.

What I saw was the way she looked at him with such love filled his heart with happiness. This got me thinking about what fills my heart and our hearts as human beings. A couple weeks later, I was visiting with five of my dear friends and as we were talking, the book came.

Literally, in one quick write, it was done. Only one line has been changed. My next children's book, called You Hold Me Up has also been inspired by Aboriginal Head Start. This is such a powerful program in our country and now has been running across our country for over 20 years and has 50,000 graduates. Culture and Language as well as Family Involvement are two of the six components of this program and as a result it is a significant aspect to the healing of Residential Schools in Canada.

What were the challenges between spark and publication, and what lessons were learned along the way?

This book was a gift from the Ancestors, I know that with every fibre of my being, Cynthia.

Her first book!
As I said above, there was only one line change and in the end there were three publishing companies that wanted to purchase it.

There were some miscommunications with the design between myself and Orca Publishing and as a result I think we have both learned the importance of ensuring connection throughout the project.

I know that this is a new way of relationships between author and publisher, but in these times of reconciliation, it is critical we work together instead of the publisher having all the power and decision making.

What did Julie Flett’s illustrations bring to your text? (Full disclosure: I'm a fan.)

Oh Julie! As I said above, it was a privilege to collaborate with Julie. When Orca informed me it was going to be Julie Flett illustrating My Heart Fills with Happiness I literally did a happy dance in my office. Not only do I admire Julie's contribution to literature; both as an author and illustrator, but I also have profound respect for her as a human being.

I think Julie's illustrations bring the words alive. The way she was able to capture the tender nuances on facial expressions and body postures is precious!

And the cover, I have had numerous girls say to me, "look, that's me on the cover." I think that says it all! When a child sees themselves on the pages it is incredibly affirming for them and in some ways, their right to be seen.

We all need to be seen and heard, but for generations literature has not only not seen us as Indigenous people, but especially not Indigenous women and girls.

Let me simply say, Julie's illustrations make this book what it is!

You also are the author of Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience (Sononis, 2013). Could you tell us a little about this book?

Tilly is loosely based on my life through Tilly's journey and the characters she meets they tell aspects of our history as Indigenous people in Canada. It weaves together some of our traditional teachings, culture and ways of being.

It also speaks to my personal journey of alcoholism and recovery and the beautiful relationship Tilly has with her alcohol & drug counsellor, Bea.

How have you grown as writer over time? 

Oh yes, I am still growing...and to be honest, hope to never stop growing. I am not a trained writer, so I need exceptional editing support.

One of the aspects where I feel I have grown the most is being willing to let the story flow through me.

I used to want to interrupt and pause the story, but now I close my eyes and type away or I share what I'm thinking into my phone. Especially dialogue between characters, that seems to come to me in the place between wakefulness and sleep.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Pay attention. Notice your surroundings, the mannerisms of individuals, the ways people speak, how the light looks on the land at different times.

I'd also say, put yourself out there: let others read your work, send it in to contests, send it to publishers. And remember, you will get on of three responses. Yes. Not yet. Or I have something even better in mind.

View of Gonzales Bay from Monique's office
How about Native American/First Nations authors?

Our people are craving to read our stories and stories that they can see themselves and their lived experiences in. Write them, share them. And if writing them isn't necessarily comfortable, talk them.

On most phones, there is the microphone app on email, if you record your story and then send it to yourself by email it will come as text and voila, you have your first draft.

I would also remind you of the importance of ceremony when writing. I find it helps ground me and opens me for the story to come through me. Offerings of gratitude help me every single day, not only when I am writing, but every day.

I would also say read as much as you can and raise up and talk about those you are reading.

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35. Excursions on Second Cruise by Margot Justes

The second one is also  a 14 night cruise, and on this one there will be 5 days at sea, the rest of the time will be spent visiting ports.  The lovely part is that I’ll be joined by lifelong friends for the 2 upcoming cruises. This is my first time taking them back-to-back...will let you know how that works out.

The first stop on this 2nd cruise from Rome, is Valetta, Malta.

This will be my second visit to Malta. It is beautiful, and a delight to tour, people are warm, and friendly, filled with history, and natural beauty, it is an amazing place to visit. We’ll stop to see the Hagar Qim Temples, that date back  to 3600 BC and described by the World Heritage Sites committee as "unique architectural masterpieces". This tour includes  a lunch at a local resort in Golden Sands.  We’ll visit the ancient city of Mdina, where St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands in 60 A.D. Tour includes a visit to the crafts village in Ta’ Qali, filled with handmade items by local artisans.

Piraeus, the port of Athens.

I have been to Athens before, and have climbed the stairs to the Acropolis, the last time was in 2014.  For this tour, I opted for a walking excursion that will end in the Plaka, the touristy street, filled with cafes, restaurants, and gift shops. This tour includes a visit to the marble Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the first modern Olympic Games held in 1896.   

Ephesus, Turkey.

This one is a repeat visit as well, but the ruins are amazing, and well worth multiple visits.  I’ve extended this tour to visit the Magnesia Gate, the once-public steam baths of Scholastica, and Temple of Hadrian, the Great Theatre, one of the largest theaters in antiquity, and the  Arcadian Way, the main street of Roman-era Ephesus,  it is reputed that Mark Antony and Cleopatra once rode in procession. The tour will end with lunch at Cittantica Ephesus Park. I always look forward to sampling the local cuisine.

Mykonos, Greece is next.

I have visited Mykonos before, but instead of touring the Island, I took an excursion to Delos, an island about 45 minutes by ferry from Mykonos. Delos is an architectural site, filled with amazing ruins, it is an ongoing research facility, and a marvel to behold. The only people allowed to live on the island are the archeologists, and security staff. There is a museum on site, and the ferry brings the tourists in the morning and picks them in the afternoon. The winds can be quite brutal, and loud as they whip up in fury. The whole island is a magnificent ruin, and not to be missed. I may repost my Delos blog-it is unique.
This time I’ll spend the day in Mykonos, and hopefully find the wonderful Windmills, and stop for a cup of Greek coffee in one of the many cafes.  The ship docks within walking distance of the center of town. The main tourist street is along the shore, with water lapping against the stones, the souvenir shops lure you in, and for me a cafe and delicious Greek coffee always beckon.

Haifa, Israel

I lived in Haifa many, many years ago, and this will be an interesting visit. The school I attended is still there, walled in, high atop Mt. Carmel. The tour includes a visit to the magnificent topiaries in Haifa's Baha'i gardens, that were built on 19 terraces, and I hope to enjoy the panoramic city views from atop Mount Carmel.  That should bring back a few memories.

Ashdod, the port of Jerusalem, we dock overnight.

The first day I booked a long 10 hour tour that will take me to Masada, and the Dead Sea, said to be the lowest point on earth. I have never been to Masada, and am really looking forward to the tour. Since it’s such a long day, they have to feed us, and lunch will be provided by one of the resorts in the area, and it will be Mediterranean fare with the Dead Sea as a backdrop.  

The second day in Jerusalem will be spent in the city of Jerusalem.
The tour is called Eternal Jerusalem, all the key points of the ancient city will be covered, visit will include Yad VeShem Holocaust Museum, the Children's Memorial, and of course there is a stop  at the Jewish quarter of the Old City, the Western Wall, and the Tomb of King David.

Last stop on this cruise is Katakolon, Greece

Katakolon is rather small,  and offers a few of the customary tourist trinkets, but its main claim is that it is the getaway to Ancient Olympia, the site of the 1st Olympics in Greece. The ruins of the temples of Hera and Zeus-hopefully some of  the Greek Mythology I read ages ago, will come back to me.  The tour will end will local snacks and Greek Folk dances.

We again end in Rome, and the last cruise in this itinerary is the transatlantic one, it will take me back to Florence, Italy, Provence, France, Barcelona, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The excursions will not be repeated, I selected different places to visit, Europe is rich with history, there is so much to see that it is not a problem to revisit.  The last stop will be in Tenerife, Canary Islands. We cross the Atlantic, and spend 7 days at sea, relaxing before disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The best part, there is no jet lag, the time is adjusted daily while at sea.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice

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36. The Debate

They smiled, shook hands and took their spots,
Preparing for a fight
And each made verbal jabs which filled
Supporters with delight.

They ducked and feinted, spewing words
To bring the other down,
Believing that by doing so,
They’d earn themselves the crown.

The moderator did his best
To keep them both on track
But it was hard because restraint
At least one side did lack.

The answer to “Who won?” depends
On whom you would promote.
We’ll learn the truth in several weeks
When we get out to vote.

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37. Book Sales

There could be many reasons why your book isn't selling as well as you expected it to.


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38. बच्चों की मानसिकता समझें अविभावक

पेरेंटस कृपया ध्यान दें. आज के समय में बच्चों की मानसिकता समझें अविभावक. अपने बच्चें की तुलना दूसरे बच्चे से करने की बजाय अपने बच्चे के गुणों को पहचाने और प्रोत्साहित करें. बच्चों की मानसिकता समझें अविभावक बच्चों की मानसिकता पर एक उदाहरण में देना चाहूंगी जो मेरे साथ हुआ .. बात  कुछ दिन पहले की […]

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39. आस

बस हवाओ से होती रही बातें,
कदम यह ज़मीन में कब रखे,
टकराया धरती से जो एक बार,
मॅन में अल्फ़ाज़ मैने तब रखे

इंद्रधनुष से दिखने वाले है जो,
बेरंग ज़िंदगी का ढंग वो रखे,
बरखा से मिलने जो मैं जाऊं,
जलते सूरज का संग वो रखे,

सपनों की सुंदर, उस नगरी से
कोसो दूर का रिश्ता, वो रखे,
कोई जो जाए, चंदा के पार,
न कोई ऐसा फरिश्ता, वो रखे,

इसलिए बस मौन ही रहता हूँ,
दिल की बात, दिल कब रखे,
हर तरफ है, मुखौटे ही मुखौटे,
दोस्त बनने की चाहत, कब रखे

समंदर से पूछ लेता हूँ अक्सर,
शांति की आस ये मन, कब रखे,
बंद है सब खिड़की और दरवाज़े,
रोशनी की आस ये तन, कब रखे ||

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40. अंजान

न मंज़िल का पता है,
न रास्ते की खबर है,
अंजान हूँ खुद से मैं,
अंजान हर डगर है,

क्या पाना है मुझको,
या क्या खोना है,
न जानू कि हँसना है,
या फिर रोना है,

एक मुसाफिर के जैसे,
बस चलता जा रहा हूँ,
तारों की रोशनी तले,
बस पलता जा रहा हूँ,
कोई कहता है पगला,
कोई बेबस सा कहता है,
कोई सोचता है देख, मुझे
दुनिया मे ये भी रहता है?

कैसे कोई इस जीवन को,
एक पल भी नही जीता,
पूछता हूँ खुद से मैं,
किस सोच का है नतीजा,

बंद एहसासो की ज़िंदगी,
आजकल आम सी हो गयी,
जाग उठा है लालच,
इंसानियत बदनाम सी हो गयी,

और मैं गुमसुम सा हूँ,
सागर किनारे को निहारता,
शांत हूँ लहरो सा पर,
अंतर्मन से, खुद को संवारता,

इसी द्वंद के बीच हूँ मैं,
न जानू भविष्य की काया,
चलता चला हूँ मैं बस,
शायद यही हो उसकी माया ||

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41. Just Started Reading... Blackthorn And Grim #2!

With Juliet Marillier's visit coming so soon(start cleaning and dusting the blog residence!) I'm trying to catch up with this wonderful trilogy! I finished Dreamer's Pool last night and have just begun Tower Of Thorns. It's a little shorter, but still plenty to read.

Juliet Marillier makes good use of fairy tales in her fiction. People enjoy figuring out which ones as they read. There were elements of The Goose Girl in Dreamer's Pool, but I haven't read enough of the current book to figure out which, if any, tale is involved here. We'll see. It does have a beginning that reminds me of the Arthurian tales which begin with a damsel arriving at court to ask for help, only instead of a king, there's his son, as the king has gone off South for a meeting at the High King's court, and instead of a brave knight the damsel wants a grumpy wise woman's assistance... The grumpy wise woman being Blackthorn, who is trying to avoid being asked for help because, under the terms  of her agreement with fey nobleman Conmael, she has to give it or risk finding herself back in the dreadful lockup from which he rescued her a year ago.

The covers are beautiful, with dreamy, Pre-Raphaelite style maidens on them. I'm not sure what the connections are to the stories, but authors would kill for such gorgeous covers! People pick those up.

Time to get up, eat and start organising my tax documents... Groan...

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42. Just Downloaded... I Am Providence!

After reading a description of this novel as "Bimbos Of The Death Sun meets Lovecraft" I just had to have it. Mind you, I did see, first, if it was in my local library, but I think it has just been released, so no. And not at Dymock's bookshop either. I try to be careful not to fill up my iPad too much. But I ended up buying it.

I read Bimbos, by Sharyn McCrumb, some years ago, and still have a battered copy on my shelves. It's a murder mystery set at a science fiction convention, in which the obnoxious guest of honour is murdered, seen from the viewpoint of a character who isn't really a science fiction fan but wrote a novel with an engineering theme which somehow ended up as a popular SF novel with the bizarre title Bimbos Of The Death Sun(not the author's choice) and now he's at this convention with a bunch of crazies.

Being one of the crazies who attends science fiction conventions, I found it initially irritating, but I suspected the author does know some things about fandom, and she wrote another novel in which a group of fans gather to dig up a time capsule of stories they wrote twenty years ago, because the valley where they buried it is about to be flooded for a dam. Only one of them has made it as a writer and he is suffering from dementia - and has witnessed a murder. But there's another character who is still publishing his silly little fanzine, which nobody reads, on a school duplicating machine, and it made me wince, because there are people like that.

I have just read a few pages of I Am Providence, because I have to finish my Juliet Marillier trilogy so I can prepare her interview questions, but yes, there is a definite flavour of Bimbos so far and even a throwaway line with the name McCrumb in it, possibly in case you don't notice...

Can't wait! 

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43. Celebrating Banned Books Week!

How fantastic is it that the theme for this year's Banned Books Week (Sept. 25 - Oct. 1) is Frequently Challenged Books with Diverse Content? We are all about books with diverse content here (well, not ALL, but it's one of the themes we feature... Read the rest of this post

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44. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 242 - 9.27.16

Alas, the Presidential debates have begun... "I'm with her" - for sure! But you still kind of want a fierce mother polar bear to step in and put her wild and imposing self between our kids and the embarrassing display of ugly defensive politicking and decidedly un-Presidential discourse (mostly from the Republicans) that we've been subjected to over the last several months. Clinton, for her part, seemed to kick butt last night. She believes in the science of climate change and the impact that we have on the world -- a debate that is also settled and agreed upon by the actual scientific communinty. She is smart. She is considered. She is experienced. She is the ONLY one on last night's stage that should be President. #VoteforClimate #VoteforPolarbears

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45. A Greek Lunch

Spinach pie and feta cheese
And grape leaves stuffed with rice
Formed the basis for a lunch
That really was so nice.

Eggplant dip, tzatziki sauce
And salad, smartly dressed
And served with olives; who could ever
Sit there unimpressed?

Sliced up chicken, pita bread
Plus other dips and cheese
Made a meal which all could see
Was meant to sate and please.

Of course, there also was dessert
And snacky treats before,
The kind of food that fills you up
But still, you eat some more.

So thank you, Pam, my hostess friend,
For starting off my week
With a lovely luncheon, filled with dishes
Tasty, fresh and Greek!

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46. School Library Connection Recommends “The Courage Test”

The Lemhi Pass, ID, no easy walk in the park.

The Lemhi Pass, ID, no easy walk in the park.


I am grateful to share another positive review for The Courage Test, this one from the School Library Connection, a link which my glamorous editor Liz kindly passed along yesterday. The review will be featured in their print magazine supplement, as well as on the reVIEWS+ site.

The money quote:

“This book will find many fans.” — School Library Connection.

Let’s hope!

Review excerpts are limited to 50 words or less. Let’s see what I can pull without cheating too much  . . .

“Many readers will identify with Will, who is forced to go on a road trip with his noncustodial dad, even though he really has other things that he would rather be doing. To make the trip worse, his Lewis and Clark obsessed history professor father has planned to follow most of Lewis and Clark’s route all the way across the country. The Corps of Discovery almost becomes another character in this coming-of-age story . . . . Recommended.”School Library Connection.

NOTE: Father and son pick up the L & C Trail at Fort Mandan, ND, and travel west to Seaside, OR. Along the way they meet strangers, paddle a canoe, ride in whitewater rapids, camp, hike the Lolo Trail, encounter bears (metaphoric & literal), and more.

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47. Sprains, Strains, and New Directions

New Akashiya Sai Watercolor Pens: the full set!

Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle. I was on the way to my writer’s group at the Albuquerque Museum and while I was walking through the car park, I stepped on an extended sprinkler head hidden by a covering of gravel. The pain of the event is indescribable: a spike through the ball of my foot, sending me into a contorted loss of balance, that then resulted in a totally twisted ankle and foot. Somehow I limped to my meeting, managed to converse for the next few hours, and then went home to collapse. Ice and pain killers got me through the worst of it, but my foot is still very tender as is my other foot and leg, as well as my back and shoulders from all the strain of hop-hop-hopping along every day to get from A to B.

By the third day of hoppity-hop I wanted to know WHY this had happened to me. Besides knowing that I wasn’t looking where I was going (I rarely do), I wondered if there could be some sort of symbolism or metaphysical lesson to be learned here. I did a quick Google search and got the same message several times over: a sprained ankle is an indication that you are to seek out a new direction. 

Sitting with my foot elevated and my stack of books and journals handy, I decided that the only new direction I wanted at that moment was to close my eyes and nap all day. But apparently the universe had other ideas. Almost immediately after reading several websites each saying the same thing about following new paths, the mail arrived and I received some new pens I ordered online several weeks earlier: a twenty-color set of Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens, along with a sampler set of eleven black drawing pens. Thirty-one pens in total. For a minimalist such as myself, the number was mind-boggling, and thoroughly distracting. It was like when I got a ball of Silly Putty when I was five and had chicken pox.

Right away I forgot about my nap and started to try out my new pens. After all, my journal was right there in front of me. As I was doodling, I then naturally got some new ideas (no, no, please no new ideas): 

  • Why not try Inktober this year? Similar to NaNoWrimo for writers, Inktober is a challenge to produce, and post on social media, an ink drawing a day for the entire month of October. I've always wanted to try it, but never had the courage to post daily. While I was thinking about this, I then had the idea to:
  • Finally start that children’s picture book I’ve been dreaming of since last year, which involves:
  • Learning to draw horses and ponies (the most difficult subject I can think of). 

Three new directions that are entirely do-able, don’t interfere too much with my already carefully-laid plans to work on my new novel, and if anything, enhance what I’m doing already. For instance, I draw every day anyway—so why not just work with ink for a month? And although I am currently marketing my picture book based in Barcelona, wouldn’t it be a good idea to be able to tell editors I am working on a second book? 

An interesting side note about learning to draw horses is that horses have delicate legs and ankles. Their feet must be considered and cared for in a serious and responsible way. Where they walk, how their shoes fit, and how they're exercises all matters. It made me think that what I need to do until the end of the year is to keep my eyes open, pay attention, and sit still long enough to get my work done. 

Thankfully, I can report that my own foot is on the mend and I'm certain I'll be  back to my old self in another week or two. But I also understand that there’s plenty of room for a new self, too--especially the one that gets to sit down all day!

Tip of the Day: According to metaphysical practitioners, there’s a lot we can learn from illness and injuries. In my case, despite the pain and inconvenience, I feel I’ve come through with some valuable insights and renewed energy for my art and writing. The next time you’re under the weather, ask if there is anything you are meant to understand or explore on a deeper level. Like me, you might be surprised at what you discover.

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48. How does someone connect their short strories/novellas

Question: I have 2 Questions. It is said that most agents don't accept collection of short stories or collection of novellas from debut authors because

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49. जिंदगी का सच – दोहरी जिंदगी

जिंदगी का फलसफा दोहरी जिंदगी जीते और जिंदगी का सच निगलते हम लोग .. ये एक ऐसा कडवा सच है जिसे आप और हम जी रहे हैंं. जिंदगी का सफर जिंदगी का सच यही है कि वाकई, हम दोहरी जिंदगी जीने लगें हैं एक सोशल मीडिया पर दूसरी असल जिंदगी में. कुछ दिन पहले मेरा […]

The post जिंदगी का सच – दोहरी जिंदगी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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50. Constance Lombardo is in the House and a Giveaway!

 Today I'm celebrating a book birthday!!

Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America by Constance Lombardo

And Mr. Puffball himself stopped by to tell us that author/illustrator Constance Lombardo is here to tell us a bit about herself and her latest book.

 From the publisher:

In Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America (Harper/Collins), Mr.
Puffball, El Gato and the gang take to the road in search of some
fantastic footage for their buddy film. Hop aboard this fast-paced travel adventure – It’s van-tastic! 

Our interview: 
What is it with you and cats?

Funny you should ask, Barbara. When I started writing, my books were about turtles and snails, two animals I can totally relate to. But my cat Myrtle kept giving me that penetrating ‘Why don’t you write about cats?’ look. So I did. Also, cats are furry, whiskered, and they have pointy ears!

Interesting! Next question: you have a knack for getting inside a cat’s head. Have you ever been a cat psychic?

Not exactly. I get my insights into the feline mind by watching, listening and belly-rubbing. My cats are Myrtle the Elder and Gandalf the Grey, the mischievous kitten. G.G. was the inspiration for Pickles, the adorable, but irritating kitten, who is in my new book, Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America.

When did you start drawing?

My first drawing of Three Men in a Tub, done when I was only four years old, is the stuff of legends. Unfortunately, it has gone missing. (Have you seen it?) When I was about ten, my sister Rita did a drawing. Not to be outdone, I did my own drawing, and I haven’t stopped since. I used to draw people. Now cats. What’s next? Maybe I’ll draw one of those scary jumpy bugs my cats keep killing and leaving lying about. But probably not.


Tell me more about your latest book, please.

Sure thing! My illustrated middle grade novel, Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America, is the second in the Puffball series. Mr. Puffball and his BFF El Gato film a buddy movie demo reel at American landmarks such as the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, the Coney Island Cyclone, and Paul Bunyan’s Onion Ring Ranch. Rosie is the director, and the rest of the gang is along for the ride. It’s a wild road trip adventure with lots of chase scenes, rodeo numbers, diner mishaps, and litter box stops. 

In writing and illustrating this book, what was the most challenging part?

I love to draw cats, people, donuts, and other round-ish things. Drawing cars, vans and road signs requires straight-ish lines. I did my best, and I’m very proud of my drawing of the funky road trip vehicle – a VW microbus. It has wheels and everything!

Is it true there’s a character in Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across Americanamed Benedict Cumbercat?

Yes! I’m a huge Benedict Cumberbatch fan, and I love all things British. In my book, Benedict Cumbercat does some not very nice things, but in the end we understand his motivation. There’s even a visit from the Queen of England! I drew this character as a corgi, since evidently Queen Elizabeth II loves corgis. 

 What is one thing you’d like your readers to know about Mr. Puffball?

I’d like them to know that Mr. Puffball is a good-hearted, loyal, and fun cat with a big dream-to be a movie star! I think we should all dream big! My dream is to write and illustrate books that kids of all ages will love and that make them laugh. I think my dreams are coming true!! 

What’s the best part of being a published author?

The absolutely best part is getting fan mail!! (after my first book,Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars) It’s such a thrill to hear from kids who love Mr. Puffball! Some say they don’t usually like reading, so if I can get a kid into reading through my books – wow!! Some include drawings, which is wonderful. Either way, I just love hearing from my readers.

The second best part is going into my local bookstore or library and finding my book on the shelves. What an amazing feeling!  

What’s next?

I’m working on Mr. Puffball book three!! More adventures are on the way…

Thanks for stopping by, Constance.

To celebrate this new addition to the Mr. Puffball series, Constance is giving away a signed copy!
Just leave your email address in the comments by October 5.

Constance Lombardo enjoys drawing and writing about cats who
are famous and infamous. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, daughter, Myrtle the Good Cat and Gandalf the Grey the Mischievous Kitten.

Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat Across America (HarperCollins) is on shelves today. Visit your local independent bookstore to get your copy.

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