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Results 7,951 - 7,975 of 217,676
7951. Personality Typing Characters

Question: I've been using the Myers Briggs personality test (in reverse as with fictional characters) to type the high ranking characters in my book. It's

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7952. My GoodReads 2014 Reading Challenge Stats


Here’s a link to the books I’ve read this year thus far.

I’m certain I wouldn’t have read this many books so far this year without this challenge. I like to challenge myself – I like deadlines because they (sometimes) push me to actually GET SOMETHING DONE.

Can you believe the year is half over?!?

Filed under: Book Corner

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7953. Teaching Metaphors

metaphorby Renee Kirchner, Teaching Tips Contributing Editor

Metaphors talk about one thing as if it were another. They are not introduced with the words “like” or “as”, but make direct comparisons. Here are a few examples:

His shirt was a flag, flying in the breeze.
Her eyes were jewels, sparkling in the sun.
The ocean is a playground for scuba divers.
A song is a poem set to music.

Metaphors can compare something unfamiliar with something familiar to give you a frame of reference.

The surface of the moon is a snowy yard with footprint craters.
The bottom of the ocean is a dark cave.
A kiwi is a fuzzy lime.
A resume is a report card for adults.

A metaphor comparison is not literal. You can’t always take the meaning directly. Here are some examples:

His room was a pigpen. (This means his room is messy, not that pigs live in it.)
The harvest moon was a pumpkin. (This means the moon was round and orange, not made out of pumpkin.)
Her teeth were pearls. (This means her teeth were white like pearls, not that each tooth was actually a pearl.)
The baby’s cheeks were two rosy apples. (This means the baby’s cheeks are round and red, not really apples.)

Writers use metaphors to make their writing colorful and you can to. Give it a try.

Life is a Roller Coaster Sometimes!An Exercise in Writing Metaphors: Complete the sentences to make your own metaphors.

1. The moon is a _____________________________________________.

2. Freckles are ________________ when they spread across your face.

3. His arms were _________________ as they lifted the heavy chair.

4. The stars are ______________ as they twinkle in the night sky.

5. The storm was a ______________ as it clawed against my window.

6. The freshly mowed lawn was a ___________________________.

7. The noisy children were __________________ as they raced through the museum.

8. I was a ___________________ as I tiptoed across the wooden floor.

9. The river was a _________________ as it twisted and turned down the mountain.

10. His cheeks were __________________ as he chewed the giant wad of bubble gum.


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7954. The Luthier’s Apprentice Blog Tour with Mayra Calvani


Title: The Luthier’s Apprentice

Author: Mayra Calvani

Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy

Hosted by: Lady Amber’s Tours

 Promo blurb:
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him.  And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…

Chapter excerpt:


Author bio:

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani has penned over ten books for children and adults in genres ranging from picture books to nonfiction to paranormal fantasy novels. She’s had over 300 articles, short stories, interviews and reviews published in magazines such as The WriterWriter’s Journal and Bloomsbury Review, among others. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she now resides in Brussels, Belgium.

Connect with the author on the Web:


Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mayra-Calvanis-Fan-Page/162383023775888

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcalvani

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/272703.Mayra_Calvani

Purchase links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K93R3OO/

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-luthiers-apprentice-mayra-calvani/1119467189


The Luthier’s Apprentice

Chapter One

Brussels, Belgium

Present day


Sixteen-year old Emma Braun got off the school bus and strode down Stockel Square toward her home. She glanced up at the October sky and wrapped her wool scarf tighter around her neck. Heavy dark clouds threatened a downpour.

As she passed a newspaper stand, the headlines on The Brussels Gazette caught her attention:


Emma stopped. For a moment she could only stare. She dug into her jacket pocket for coins and bought a copy.

The newspaper article left her stunned. Not only because three well-known violinists had gone missing in the last several months, but because the latest one was her teacher, Monsieur Dupriez.

The news story seemed so hard to believe, she stopped at the next street corner to read it one more time.

It was the last week of October, and the shops and homes were lightly adorned with Halloween decorations. Pumpkins and Jack-o-lanterns sat on doorsteps. Witches, broomsticks, and black cats hunkered down in windows and shops. Just last evening, Emma had sauntered along this street with her best friend Annika, unconcerned and looking forward to Halloween. Now, everything had turned dark and ominous.

The strange incidents she had experienced for the past two weeks added to her stress.

At first she had thought they were a string of coincidences, but not anymore. While scowling at obnoxious Billie Lynam during school recess, for instance, she wished he would fall flat on his face… and half a minute later, her wish was granted. On various occasions she guessed people’s thoughts before they spoke. And yesterday, on her way home from school, she accurately guessed the meal her mom had left on the table for her.

Was she some kind of a psychic? If so, why now? People didn’t develop powers like these overnight. Did they?

She hadn’t told her mom about her new abilities yet; only Annika knew. Maybe she would tell her mom today, after she shared the news about Monsieur Dupriez.

As Emma approached her home, she quickened her step. By the time she reached the door she was almost running. She raced into the hallway and dropped her book bag on the floor.

“Mom!” she called, looking in the kitchen, then in the living room. The house was silent. “Mom!” she called again, racing up the stairs to the bedrooms. Entering her mother’s room, Emma found her sitting very still on the bed with a crumpled letter in her hand.

When her mom saw her, she hastily put the crumpled piece of paper into her pocket and rose from the bed. Her arched brows were furrowed with anxiety.

Emma momentarily forgot the newspaper article. “Are you okay, Mom?”

“I’ve just received some unsettling news,” her mom said. “I must make a trip to see your Aunt Lili. She’s ill. She…I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”

Aunt Lili? Emma frowned. More surprises. Emma had never met her mom’s eccentric only sister, who lived alone in the Hungarian mountains secluded in an old chateau surrounded by dark woods—or so her mom said. Though again, her mom hardly ever mentioned her.

“What’s wrong with Aunt Lili?” Emma asked. “Can’t I come with you?” She had always been intrigued by her mysterious aunt.

“No. You’ll stay with Grandpa. You enjoy working with him, don’t you?” Her brown eyes met Emma’s before turning away, and though her voice sounded matter-of-fact, Emma detected a trace of ambivalence.

Emma sighed. She loved violin making with a passion, but Grandpa was a bitter taskmaster. No matter how much she tried to please him, she never could. Maybe that’s why her mom often seemed so reluctant about her apprenticeship.

“I’d rather go with you,” Emma said. “Plus, next week is holiday.” All Saints holiday week—or Toussaint, as they called it here—almost always coincided with Halloween.

“That’s out of the question. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. Besides, you can’t miss your violin lessons, not with the Christmas competition at the academy coming up soon.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Emma said gravely, extending the newspaper.

Her mom took it. “What’s this?”

“This is why I came running up the stairs.”

Her mom read the headlines. She gasped and looked at Emma. When she finished reading, she sat on the edge of the mattress and stared into space. “Oh, my God…” she whispered.

Emma sat next to her mom. “It says Monsieur Dupriez disappeared in his study. The doors and windows were locked from the inside. The police don’t have any explanation. How can this happen? It’s not logical. It’s not humanly possible.”

“No, not humanly possible…”

“Just like the other three—that German violinist, the French one, the American. Nobody has explained their disappearances. Who would want to kidnap violinists?” When her mom didn’t answer, she began to gnaw at her fingernail.

As if by reflex, her mom pulled Emma’s hand away from her mouth.

“Sorry,” Emma mumbled. “I’m just worried about him.”

“Poor Madame Dupriez. We must visit her. She must be in quite a state.”

“Can you call her now?”

Her mom sighed. “I will. In a moment.” She looked at Emma, her features softening. Gently, she smoothed Emma’s glossy chestnut locks and side fringe away from her face. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine. You mustn’t be afraid.”

“Afraid? Why would I be afraid?”

“I mean, about Monsieur Dupriez.” Her mom appeared flustered.

“I’m not afraid. I’m worried, and angry. I want to find out what happened to him. Without him, I don’t even want to take part in the competition.”

Monsieur Dupriez had been Emma’s teacher since she was four years old. But more than teacher, he was her mentor.

“You will do your best at the competition—with or without Monsieur Dupriez. Do you hear me?” her mom said. Then her voice softened. “Listen, darling, I know how close you are to Monsieur Dupriez, but you cannot allow his disappearance to destroy your chances at the competition. I’m not asking you to win, only to do your best. You have great talent, a gift, and your duty is to use it to the best of your ability. Never forget this. Monsieur Dupriez would never want you to forget this.”

“You still haven’t told me what’s wrong with Aunt Lili,” Emma said, changing the conversation. “Why must you go to her now, after all these years?”

Looking into Emma’s face, her mom hesitated, as if unable to decide what—or how much—to say. “You know she’s always been ill, a recluse. She…” She rose from the bed and walked to the window, then opened the curtain. It had started raining, the drops pelted against the glass. “This time it’s serious. She may die.”

Emma couldn’t help feeling a twinge of suspicion. She hated distrusting her mom, whom she loved more than anything in the world, but this time her mom was lying. Emma trusted that feeling, another of her freaky new abilities. She felt an overwhelming urge to chew her fingernails, but tried to control herself. For her mom, a violinist’s hands were a work of art.

“But what’s wrong with her? What kind of disease does she have?” Emma insisted.

“Her heart is very weak.” Her mom turned away from the window to face Emma. Her voice was laced with impatience.

And again Emma thought: She’s lying.

“Please don’t worry about it,” her mom went on in a lighter tone. “I’ll try to come back soon.”

“How soon?”

“As soon as I can manage.”

“Grandpa is always in such a nasty mood,” Emma complained.

“Well, that isn’t news, is it?” Her mom stared down at the floor, as if absorbed by her own thoughts. After a pause, she added, “He’s old and his back always hurts. You know that.”

“I love Grandpa, but he’s so freaking…” She tried to come up with the right word. Bizarre.  Instead she said, “Mysterious. You know, with his violins.”

Her mom looked at Emma and frowned, as if waiting for her to say more.

“You know what I mean, Mom. With that room at the top of the stairs. The one that’s always locked.”

Her mom’s features hardened. “He keeps his most valuable pieces in there. You must never disobey him. He would be very disappointed.”

“Who said I would go in there?” Emma asked, trying to sound innocent. If there was something she intended to do, it was going inside that room. Once she’d almost been successful. For some crazy reason, Grandpa had forgotten to lock it one day. But the instant she touched the doorknob, he had called her from the bottom of the stairs, his wrinkled features twisted into a mask that had left her frozen. He had appeared enraged and afraid at the same time.

“When are you leaving?” Emma asked, shaking off the past to focus on the present issue.

“As soon as possible. Tomorrow, probably. I’ll get the plane tickets today.”


“Emma, please. If you’re going to complain or say anything negative, I don’t want to hear it.”

Fine. Obviously, this wasn’t the best time to bring up her new psychic powers. She headed to the door.

“Where are you going?” her mom asked.

“To my room.”

“I’ll call Madame Dupriez to see if we may visit her after dinner. In the meantime, I want you to pack. You’re moving to Grandpa’s tomorrow.”

In her room, Emma dragged her suitcase from the top shelf in the closet and set it on the floor.

“Hi, Sweetie,” she said to Blackie, her rabbit. “Want to get some exercise?” She opened the cage door so Blackie could hop out and roam about her room. Blackie was housebroken, and smart as a cat—or close to it.

She stared at the elegant taffeta gown hanging from her wardrobe door, a strapless design a la Anne Sophie Mutter she’d already bought for the upcoming violin competition.

She sighed.

Slumped on the bed, Emma wondered for the umpteenth time about Monsieur Dupriez’s strange disappearance.

Where could he be?


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7955. The Weekend Writer: Conferences

So you're writing and studying. You're not part of a MFA program, but you want to get some live instruction. Or maybe you're done with a MFA program and you want more or different live instruction. You start thinking about attending a writers' conference.

Zakia R. Khwaja at Scribe's Madness has a post on preparing for a writers' conference. And it involves more than putting together the right outfit. Her section on creating conference goals is the particularly important bit here, IMHO.

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7956. My tweets

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7957. Giveaway: One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (US & Canada Only)

One Death, Nine Stories

by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (editors)
Release Date: 8/26/14


About the Book

How could one teenage boy’s life elicit other kids’ first experiences — even after he dies? Nine interconnected stories from nine top YA writers.

Kev’s the first kid their age to die. And now, even though he’s dead, he’s not really gone. Even now his choices are touching the people he left behind. Ellen Hopkins reveals what two altar boys (and one altar girl) might get up to at the cemetery. Rita Williams-Garcia follows one aimless teen as he finds a new life in his new job — at the mortuary. Will Weaver turns a lens on Kevin’s sister as she collects his surprising effects — and makes good use of them. Here, in nine stories, we meet people who didn’t know Kevin, friends from his childhood, his ex-girlfriend, his best friend, all dealing with the fallout of his death. Being a teenager is a time for all kinds of firsts — first jobs, first loves, first good-byes, firsts that break your heart and awaken your soul. It’s an initiation of sorts, and it can be brutal. But on the other side of it is the rest of your life.








About the Authors

Marc Aronson is an editor and author of many award-winning books for young people, including Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies, and Pick-Up Game, which he co-edited with Charles R. Smith Jr. He lives in New Jersey.

Charles R. Smith Jr. is the photographer of My People, winner of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and the author of Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali, winner of a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, as well as co-editor, contributor, and photographer for Pick-Up Game. He lives in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Check out the book on GoodReads.

Follow Candlewick Press on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Tumblr.


Giveaway Details

FIVE winners will each receive a hardcover copy of One Death, Nine Stories. US/Canada only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

Who are the nine authors of the short stories in this collection?

a Rafflecopter giveaway




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7958. Cuphead Game Trailer

One of the delightful surprises at the recent E3 interactive game expo was the trailer for an upcoming video game called "Cuphead" by developers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer. (Direct link to video)

The gameplay is classic run-and-gun with an emphasis on boss battles.

Here are some character sketches. The game uses traditional hand-drawn and hand-inked cel animation animation and painted watercolor backgrounds. A lot of the animation is on cycles. 

The bosses have rolling eyes and pop-out heads. Effects animation includes little puffs of smoke when Cuphead hits the ground and star-flash FX on shots and impacts. 

The period style is hard to nail down to just one era. The animation style owes a lot to Silly Symphonies like Hell's Bells (animated by Ub Iwerks) and the madcap mania of the Fleischer Studios of the 1930s. But the game also has a 1920s vibe because of the silent-picture title cards (complete with digital chromatic aberrations and "projectionist" focus pulls). The jazz music track has a bebop sound that places it more into the '50s.

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7959. Kishaz Reading Corner: Beauty Dates the Beast

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the author or publisher for this honest review.

About the Book

Single human female to join charming, wealthy, single male were-cougar for a night of romantic fun—and maybe more.

Me: The tall, sensuous, open-minded leader of my clan.

You: A deliciously curvy virgin who’s intimately familiar with what goes bump in the night. Must not be afraid of a little tail. Prefer a woman who’s open to exploring her animal nature. Interest in nighttime walks through the woods a plus.

My turn-ons include protecting you from the worst the supernatural world has to offer. Ready for an adventure? Give me a call.

Vampires and doppelgangers need not apply.

Buy the Book

Here's what I'm giving it:

Rating: 3 stars

Here's why:

I picked up this title because I thought it might be a retelling and/or new version of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. Sadly, I was in for a little disappointment but that didn't deter me from reading this paranormal romance.

I think what I liked the most was Bathsheba's and Beau's wit. They played well off each other, even when Bathsheba was being guarded. I also liked the fact that Bathsheba was protective of her sibling and wanted what was best for her.

Some things that drove me nuts about the story was the first-person viewpoint. I'm not a fan of this style but I will read them when they are done well. The approach for this story was just okay for me. I did get tired of reading the story from Bathsheba's point of view the entire time.

Also the ending was a bit of a letdown along with some confusion as to how they arrived at the conclusion that they did to take care of some of the problems that popped up during the story.

Would I recommend this? Perhaps to those who are already readers of the genre.

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7960. I Won Dean K Miller's Lovely Book!

Much to my surprise and delight, I won a copy of Dean K. Miller's book.

Published via the independent Hot Chocolate Press label, And Then I Smiled . . . includes over 50 personal essays and stories. Sprinkled throughout the manuscript are ten poems.
Finding grace in life’s simplest moments, And Then I Smiled: Reflections of a Life Not Yet Complete  transports readers on journeys ranging from beaches, mountain streams, city parks and to destinations in realms we seldom visit, both inside and outside the physical world.

Seemingly average moments of life create the backdrop for Miller’s keen observations and discoveries, touching on various facets of life, family, nature and the energy that surrounds us.'

I don't think this completely conveys what this book meant to me. It holds an unique magic, brought to mind the work of Eckhart Tolle and Paulo Coelho, and it was expecially welcome at a time when life was difficult. It was a wonderful sharing experience, and I hope you will discover it for yourselves.  

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7961. Facebugged

I’ve made an uneasy peace with becoming a product sold to advertisers. Now it seems I’ve been a lab rat, too.

The AV Club reports:

Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.


I uploaded this picture last night, intending to write my usual sort of daily-chronicle post. Then my eye wandered from the rainbows inscribed on the bubble to the blunt, browned ends of the grass and I got distracted by the ruthlessness with which we shear off the fertile edges of nature. I wandered off to bed, musing, leaving the post unwritten. (Huck’s finger is much improved, was the gist.)

This morning, after reading the article quoted above (about a different kind of bubble, a ruthlessness altogether unsurprising but disgusting nonetheless), I came back here and found the photo waiting. And now I see that I’m in the picture too, there inside the bubble, taking a photo of the green world on the other side of the film. You could work up quite a metaphor there, obvious, clumsy, but apt: the insubstantial bubbles, the world outside, the illusions of people that aren’t the persons themselves.

But my frustrations aren’t philosophical (of course Facebook was always going to exploit us in every way possible) but practical. The reason a billion people have handed over their (our) data to Facebook is, at heart, a practical one: it’s the most efficient platform anyone has yet come up with for letting us keep in touch with a large number of friends and family at once. We failed at writing letters. Good phone conversations, while satisfying, take immense chunks of time. If you want to keep up with each other’s daily lives, the little things, you have to talk every couple of days (at the least) or else there’s too much ground to cover and you must out of necessity abridge.

Yahoogroups worked, for a while—you could engage in meaningful discourse or chummy banter with a good-sized group of people at once. But generally most of those relationships were new, were forged because of the group, by means of the group. I made some lifelong friends that way (hello, TAMs! hello, Karen!) but (I don’t like that ‘but’; it sounds like a devaluation of the friendships on its left, and that isn’t what I mean at all)—but—but my high-school friends didn’t form a Yahoogroup. My college friends didn’t. We kept to our phone calls, our occasional letters and visits. I read letters six times and treasured them, and didn’t write back, or did but didn’t stop for stamps.

After a while, most of the Yahoogroups I was part of morphed into discussion boards (more efficient, because they allowed for topic-sorting; less efficient, because they required administration and management) or faded into disuse. I think I’m still signed up to forty-odd lists. I get mail from three, and read one and a half. It’s years since I logged into a discussion board.

Then came blogs. Those of us still doggedly blogging for personal reasons look back on 2005 and 2006 with nostalgia: we remember what it was like in those days, less than a decade ago, when we were for the first time opening our front doors and saying here’s my house, come in. We shared too much, made friends, celebrated art and nature, got in fights, copied one another or got furious about being copied—all the same things we’d done on AOL in 1995 and in email groups in 1999, only now with photos of our children. We formed new and very real friendships: real and strange, because we knew (know) so much about each other and have watched each other’s children grow up, and yet we live so far away some of us may never meet. When one of us goes silent for a while, the others worry. Sometimes I’ll think: if she dies, I might never know what happened.

That’s if she isn’t on Facebook. Because that’s what Facebook does better than blogging—connects wide groups of people and spreads news they wouldn’t necessarily publish on any other website—and Facebook is why only a fraction of my friends-who-blogged are blogging still. Facebook IS blogging. It’s everyone blogging at once on the same platform, a platform cleverly managed (manipulated) for purposes we all agree are greedy at best, and not guided by principles that put our best interests remotely near the top of the priority list.

I love Facebook. I hate Facebook. I have loved and hated it since the day I joined. Facebook gave me back friends I had lost: that’s the sum total of my reason for loving it, and it’s immense. All those other platforms brought me new friends. Facebook reunited me with old ones. I don’t need to dress it up in metaphors. I’d lost touch with some of the people I loved best, and Facebook gave them back to me. It gave me what blogging didn’t: daily contact with beloved cousins and old school friends. Every day, it gave (gives) me photos and anecdotes of their lives, their children, their pets, their loved ones, their work. How can I measure the value of that?

If all the people I loved were inclined to blog—to blog about their personal lives, no less—I wouldn’t need a platform like Facebook. Somehow, Facebook accomplished the miraculous feat of convincing all these old friends to blog as we were doing, with oversharing and our children’s faces and outrage and sorrow and delight. And commenting is easier there, it just IS: fast, efficient (it always comes back to efficiency), and rewarded by a heartening LIKE. And—significantly—more conversational. You can reply back and forth quickly, in real-time like chat. Don’t blog comments feel more formal somehow? They didn’t use to. I feel like we used to chitchat more in the combox, but maybe that’s nostalgia. It’s probably just the time delay. If I reply to your comment here, it’s probably a day after you wrote it, and who knows if you even see the reply.

It’s strange, actually, the way we feel safer about sharing our personal stories on Facebook. We know we’re the product there; the evidence is thrust before us every time we open the tab and see a sidebar ad for a book we looked at on a different website the day before. We rail about the way they keep resetting the news feed from ‘most recent’ to ‘top stories,’ we fume at each sneaky privacy-policy change, we wince each time another website wants us to log in via Facebook before we can leave a comment.

But we go back, because that’s where our friends are posting photos of their their babies, their travels, their graduations. Because it’s a mini college reunion every time one of us posts and all our classmates chime in, laughing over an old shared joke. Because we have history together, and we care about one another’s present-day lives. Because if something serious happens, you’re going to tell your Facebook friends before you put it on a blog.

To leave, or to make the decision never to go in the first place (for reasons I respect and with a resolve I may at times envy a little), is to cut yourself off from a certain flow of information. There’s plenty of nonsense and trivia on Facebook, as there is in all forms of human interaction, including some of the best phone calls I’ve ever had. But there’s a great deal of the Real, the Good, the True there too, and it’s that—not simply the dopamine hit, as many theorists would have us believe—that brings us back. It’s genuine curiosity. It’s, to be blunt, love. I love you and I want to know how you’re doing. If Facebook is where you’re showing me, how can I stay away?

I would pay for an ad-free social connection site with no data-mining and no gross user manipulation of the sort revealed in the newly published study described in the article above. (You can click through from the article to the study itself.) But—here’s what I know. I know it’s unlikely a critical mass of my friends and relatives would too. Facebook caught us because it was free, and because there was a numerical tipping point: so many of us are there now, you really are missing something if you aren’t. Which isn’t to say anyone should be there who doesn’t want to be: I wouldn’t presume. As I said, I respect and admire their reasons for staying away.

But I’m a practical person, and I know what I’ll miss out on if I leave. I’m 46 years old and I’ve lived in a lot of places. I love a great many people. As I said on Facebook this morning when I shared the link above—my last act before logging out for a breather—”But how will I get my YOU fix?”

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7962. Writing contest — deadline in two days!

Writing contest — deadline in two days! First Annual Summer Writing Contest Write2Ignite! is pleased to announce the First Annual Summer Writing Contest The winner will receive: a tote bag of goodies especially selected for writers announcement of the winner’s name and story title on the Write2Ignite! website an interview with the winner posted on…

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7963. Plotting

Michael Crichton used 3x5 index cards when plotting out his stories. 


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7964. Writing Tip: A Moment Journal

Hi, folks. Glad you are dropping by. News about PLUMB CRAZY is at the end of the post. Today, I'm going to chat about a little habit I have that others have found interesting.

I keep records of moments that strike me. For example, today I drove to Navasota to have lunch with my dad at The Wrangler Steakhouse. It was sunshiny when I left and sunshiny when I returned, only somewhere in that one hour, a huge torrential rain storm dumped massive puddles of water on the roadway. Weird.

And here's another. Yesterday, I was driving down my street and suddenly a huge beach ball rolled across a yard in front of my car and into the street, across another neighbor's yard and then back onto a side street. I watched it until it disappeared. I gave it a whimsical title. Beach ball takes a roll.

And a last moment, a couple of days ago I was driving down in front of Bryan High school, listening to a talk show about the World Cup and Japanese fans who wave blue trash bags during the match and then clean up after. Arigato gozaimasu, Japanese fans. Right then I drove by a "Big Blue" sign in front of the Bryan High stadium and felt this whole the universe is full of cosmic harmony thing.

I put all these moments into what I call a moments journal. I keep several journals and to stay organized I buy journals of different sizes. I like long sort of grocery-list-sized journals for moments. Short fat journals for complaining (Ok, those are supposed to be a gratefulness journals. I'm working on that.) I write in my moment journal when I feel like it. It's a total creative exercise. Journal writing keeps my imagination flexible. Maybe my weird habit will spark something in you.

I will be back next week with a new series. I hope you make tons of creative progress this week.

Doodle for the week:  Blue girl.

Quote for your pocket.
Don’t get it right, just get it written. James Thurber
Now PLUMB CRAZY news: I recently an article on USA Today: Quirky Girls Need Love Too. I offer some tips that I follow when writing quirky characters. You might want to check that out.

There is also the ebook giveaway that is still running: Go here. 

The ebook version of PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance but will be out as paperback soon. Try here for a copy from Amazon US. Here is Amazon UK. Here is Amazon Australia. Here is Amazon Canada. Try here for a copy for your B&N Nook .

Also consider participating in my upcoming book tour. Here is the link. 

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7965. Just So Stories Volume II

Just So Stories Volume II

Written by: Rudyard Kipling

Illustrated by: Ian Wallace

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: October 1, 2013

Ages: 8+

Provided by the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

The second volume of Rudyard Kipling's classic stories provides an excellent companion to Just So Stories, Volume I.

Like the first volume, Kipling's classic stories are married with Wallace's stunning art.

My kids, currently learning Japanese characters which includes the history of these pictorial characters, were especially fascinated by How the Alphabet Was Made, the continuation to How the First Letter Was Written. My kids haven't been exposed to a story like this about the roman alphabet, so it was especially exciting. Since O is similar to the shape of the mouth to make the sound and S looks like a snake these are easy to figure out but the A for the mouth of a carp fish is pretty ingenious., as is the beaver tail for the letter B. It helps that the character of Taffy is engaging as well as being creative.

Kipling has a heavy respect for nature and its creatures, and this comes through in Wallace's paintings. From the ocean to the crabs and butterflies, all the natural components is fused with life and movement, and Wallace's style is classical enough to meld with the old style of Kipling's stories.

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7966. Unwrapping a Vermeer

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7967. Strike Three is here now! And with a discount!!

For the print edition of Strike Three, go to Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4876544   With this discount code: TGERED9J , you'll save 25% of the cover price of $12.95; the discount is good through July 15.

If you prefer eBooks, go to Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/452298   The discount code: WB38B will save you 25% off the cover price of $4.95.  Again, this discount is only good through  July 15.

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7968. Writing contest — deadline in two days!

Writing contest — deadline in two days! First Annual Summer Writing Contest Write2Ignite! is pleased to announce the First Annual Summer Writing Contest The winner will receive: a tote bag of goodies especially selected for writers announcement of the winner’s name and story title on the Write2Ignite! website an interview with the winner posted on…

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7969. Terraceless

Some hotels have terraces.
Some hotels do not;
But I'm a guest at one
That's at an in-between those spot.

There clearly was a terrace
That was built outside my room
And every other room as well -
That's what you would assume.

But all the railings were removed,
The sliding doors sealed shut;
'Cause if you stepped outside and fell,
You'd win your lawsuit - but

I wonder why the rails are gone -
What problem was addressed?
A hurricane, an earthquake
Or a suicidal guest?

The fact is, though, that jutting floor
Is like a little tease
And worst of all, I can't enjoy
The breath of any breeze.

So Mr. Marriott, I think
This place needs a revision;
To be or not to be a terrace -
That is your decision.

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7970. Wash Your Hands Sign for Home, Office, Classrooms, School, Day Care Centers

Wash Your Hands classroom, school, bathroom sign

NEW! Flower Friends Wash Your Hands Sign

Perfect for kitchen, bathroom, day cares, pediatriciansoffice, school, classrooms, home ... just about any room in the house! This sign politely reminds people to wash their hands to avoid the spread of germs and flu virus. You can purchase it here.

As a reminder, you can reach our site through these other websites as well:

WashYourHandsSigns.comPremieSigns.comCHDSigns.com and CarSeatSigns.com!

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7971. Giveaway: Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan (US & Canada Only)

Book’s Title: Into the Grey

Author’s Name: Celine Kiernan
Book’s Release Date: 8/26/14


About the Book

In a heart-pounding, atmospheric ghost story, a teenage boy must find the resources within himself to save his haunted twin brother.

After their nan accidentally burns their home down, twin brothers Pat and Dom must move with their parents and baby sister to the seaside cottage they’ve summered in, now made desolate by the winter wind. It’s there that the ghost appears — a strange boy who cries black tears and fears a bad man, a soldier, who is chasing him. Soon Dom has become not-Dom, and Pat can sense that his brother is going to die — while their overwhelmed parents can’t even see what’s happening. Isolated and terrified, Pat needs to keep his brother’s cover while figuring out how to save him, drawing clues from his own dreams and Nan’s long-ago memories, confronting a mystery that lies between this world and the next — within the Grey. With white-knuckle pacing and a deft portrayal of family relationships, Celine Kiernan offers a taut psychological thriller that is sure to haunt readers long after the last page is turned.


b2ap3_thumbnail_photo.jpgAbout the Author

Born in Dublin, Ireland, 1967, Celine Kiernan has spent the majority of her working life in the film business. Trained at the Sullivan Bluth Studios, her career as a classical feature character animator spanned over seventeen years. She spent most of her time working between Germany, Ireland and the USA. Her books have been included in the White Raven's Collection, and short listed for the 2009 Irish Book Awards in two categories (best newcomer and best children's book) as well as long-listed for the 2010 Australian Inkys Award. They have variously won the Reading Association of Ireland Children's Book Award 2009, the CBI Book of the year (formerly Bisto) Award 2012 and the CBI Children's Choice 2012. Between them they have been translated into many different languages worldwide.

Check out the book on GoodReads.

Follow Candewick on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr.


Giveaway Details

FIVE winners will each receive a hardcover copy of Into the Grey. US/Canada only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

Author Celine Kiernan is of what critically-acclaimed trilogy?


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7972. The books that shaped me

I’m always fascinated hearing about the childhood books that influenced other writers. Last month, the very awesome Will Kostakis looked at the reading that shaped him as an author, which, not surprisingly, had quite few entries that would make my list too (The Hobbit! Fight Club!) There are plenty of books that I’ve fallen in love with as an adult, and quite a few that I’ve loved so much that I’ve had to re-read them, some more than once. But I’m not sure that these books have had quite the same impact and influence as the books I read and loved as a kid. So, following Will’s list, here is the history of me, as a reader, in a very condensed nutshell:

Enid Blyton2

Like Will, my earliest reading memories are all Enid Blyton. The Magic Faraway Tree was definitely a favourite, but The Naughtiest Girl and The Wishing Chair series’ were also right on top of my list. These are books where I would come to the last page, and then turn back and start reading right from the beginning again, sometimes without a break in between, because I just couldn’t stand being away from that world. Oh, and the food – I wanted to eat ALL THE THINGS! No writer has ever managed to make a picnic with ginger beer and jam sandwiches and handfuls of radishes sound quite as appealing as Enid Blyton.

Roald Dahl2

I’m not sure if I was unusual, but I never really enjoyed being read to as a kid; mostly, I think, because I liked being in my own head with my books. But I did have one primary school teacher who was the master of the spellbinding reading, and the best part of the day quickly became story time before the final bell. He is directly responsible for my discovery of all things Roald Dahl. While The BFG became a go-to happy book, Danny the Champion of the World was a stand-out for me. I haven’t read it in years, but I still remember the pheasants, and the hot coco, and the warm and fuzzies in the relationship between Danny and his dad.

[For the month of June, I will be writer-in-resident at the fab Inside a Dog - you can read the rest of this post here]

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7973. Unwrapping a Vermeer

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7974. Currently Re-Reading...

I'm halfway through a reread of Anne-Marie Selinko's novel Desiree, a delightful historical romance about the woman who was Napoleon's fiancée before he decided that Josephine was better for his career. She married Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte instead, who became one of his Marshalls and they ended up as King and Queen of Sweden, by invitation of the Swedes, not put there by Napoleon.

From what I've read, the historical Desiree Clary was a very strange woman, not at all like the one in the novel and certainly not like Jean Simmons, who played the role so beautifully in the film. But as a novel, it's very readable and it takes you through the whole of Napoleon's career, from beginning to end, through the eyes of his first love(who gets over him fairly soon, by the way). If Desiree wasn't like the one in the book, she should have been.

I've just finished re-reading Terry Pratchett's Equal Rites, about the Discword's first female wizard. It was written early in his career and introduces Granny Weatherwax.  I'm glad to have reread this particular novel, because Eskarina Smith, the young girl who has wizarding abilities, is also the first witch Granny trains and is not unlike Tiffany Aching, the heroine of the Wee Free Men series. And I've been re-reading those - currently reading A Hatful Of Sky, the second one. In fact, Eskarina returns in the fourth of the Tiffany series, as an adult, bouncing around time and space.

I'm also on the first read of some review books - watch this space!

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7975. Candice Ransom's IVA HONEYSUCKLE MEETS HER MATCH - Guest Post and Giveaway!

Candice Ransom is my walking buddy at Hollins University each summer. We do three laps around the gorgeous campus almost every week-day. It got me in shape last summer! Let's hope it'll do it again this summer! Along with being the author of over 110 books, she's a fantastic photographer with a blog that inspires lovely sighs called "Under the Honeysuckle Vine"... Anyhow, I'm thrilled to have Candice on to talk about her latest novel, IVA HONEYSUCKLE MEETS HER MATCH! Take it away Candice...

Iva Honeysuckle: Made-up Character or Me in Disguise?
Candice Ransom

     I’ve written a lot of books with a lot of characters, but Iva Honeysuckle takes the cake. She isn’t me, but she lets me be my nine-year-old self again.
      Iva’s story began when I was driving home from a conference. Suddenly this character, her entire family, and a town full of people boiled into my head. The character told me her name was Iva Honeycutt, that she was almost nine, and that she had a tattling, sneaky, lying double-first cousin named Heaven, who was clearly no angel.
      She said she lived in Uncertain, Virginia, and she wanted to be a great discoverer. (As a great discoverer, she called herself Iva Honeysuckle so she wouldn’t be just another Honeycutt sister or cousin.) She was friends with Euple Free, owner of the third-fastest pickup in town, and Swannanoah Priddy, who ran the town dump, and Swannanoah’s parents who owned a taxidermy/cake decorating business in the same shop, but had not spoken a syllable to each other in thirty-five years.
      Iva told me she was suspicious of Cazy Sparkle, who threw yard sales any old day of the week, but loved Walser Compton, the Sunday school teacher and the only person who really understood Iva and who served preacher cookies with unsweetened cherry Kool-Aid on her front porch while she was understanding her.
      I moved into Iva’s town, Uncertain, a place that suited me right down to the ground. The people in that town were my people. Although the characters and the town are fiction, the place they came from was very real. The characters spoke the language I grew up hearing (and still speak myself), language salted with idioms and poor grammar, interesting talk.
      The events in Iva Honeysuckle Discovers the World (Hyperion) are based somewhat on my own life, but Iva had a life of her own to live and she roared like a freight train in her story.
      She didn’t shut up until I wrote another book about her. In Iva Honeysuckle Meets Her Match (Hyperion). I cast back to all those day trips to the beach with my cousins, fighting for the “best” window, dropping Planter’s peanuts in a bottle of R.C. Cola and then shaking the bottle with disastrous results, falling out over something before we’d backed out of the driveway, then making up, and then falling out again.
      Stingray Point, a real place, is not a little beach town. I combined all the little gimcrack beach “resorts” we frequented—Widewater, Fairview, Colonial Beach, Breezy Point—to give my fictional version of Stingray Point a little life. And I dreamed myself back to those days when the sun blared in the hazy sky, the rough sand promised buckets of fossil shark’s teeth, and jellyfish dotted the beach like giant loogies.
      I remembered floating in tractor tire inner tubes, hanging on until my armpits ached, and when the black rubber got too hot, I’d dip down, the sides of the inner tube blocking all sounds except my own breathing and laplets of greeny-gray water, and flip the inner tube to the cool wet side. I remembered half-running, half-walking over scorching gravel—Oooch, eeech, ouch!—in a bathing suit stuck damply up my butt crack. I remembered cotton candy that wisped to nothing in the seaside air. I remembered tuna fish sandwiches and ice tea on sandy porches. If those exact things aren’t in Iva Honeysuckle Meets Her Match, the nine-year-old feelings of being at the beach with extended family are.
      Do we write for ourselves or for readers? People who write for children have to be aware of their audience. But we also have to tap into our pasts. It doesn’t matter if we have children, or teach children, or are around children. What matters is that we were kids once. We can observe children, but we only know the feelings we experienced as a child.
      No, Iva is not me, not entirely. But I love her more than any of my characters. I love how she looks at the world around her in all its particularness and peculiarness, sort of the way I did. She makes me feel I’m back home again with all my cousins, falling out and making up again, the sound of ice cubes clinking in glasses of cherry Kool-Aid.

     Bio goes here....

Hyperion has kindly agreed to give a free copy of IVA HONEYSUCKLE MEETS HER MATCH to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below!

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