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A couple of years ago, when someone in my family was gravely ill, two dear friends from back home in Indiana, raced to pick me up in Chicago at the airport, and drive me several hours back to my hometown in Culver, IN – after working to get me to the hospital in the quickest way possible. They gave me their own car to drive that week (telling me there was no need to rent a car when they had one to spare), and later had me over for a special dinner – one they had clearly slaved over – on top of everything they already had done. Simple acts of kindness.
But this week, Anna and Donald Neher, two truckdrivers, got word that their home had burned while they were hauling a load in California. As if that devastating news wasn’t enough, they learned their dear friend, who was housesitting for them while they were away, had tragically died in the blaze. All I know is Anna and Don would give the shirts off their own backs, like any upstanding Midwesterner would, to anyone in need. This time – it’s Anna and Don who are in need, and I imagine I’m not the only beneficiary of their past kindness. The only real question is how can we help these, kind-hearted, and generous citizens, Anna and Don, get back on their feet while their hearts are so heavy-laden. This burden is too much to bear, both grappling with a death in their home, due to a fire, and during Christmastime.
Imagine everything they are going through. They’ve lost every material possession in the world. While they’ve lost so much, they still have friends like me who remember their past generosity, and they have their family and their community whom I know will want to rally around in support of them. At bare minimum, let’s get them funded so they can get some of the basic necessities they’ll need to start over again.
I went through an unplanned blogging hiatus this summer, which meant that a lot of books and movies that I would have liked to write about ended up unreported (though some of them will be showing up in my forthcoming year's best list). Still, it seemed wrong to end the year without another look at what I've been reading (one of the things I'd like to get back to next year is full-length book
Hugh Ferriss was an architectural illustrator known for his dramatic renderings of early skyscraper designs. He sketched from observation, but he also worked from imagination when commissioned to visualize proposed structures.
Here's an example of a rendering of a proposed building, the Convocation Tower designed by Goodhue in 1924. The building rises up like a rocket ship into the night from a flood of light at the base.
How did he achieve such accurate perspective, but also such a sense of drama and atmosphere?
"The first stage is a rough layout of the streetscape and the foreground traffic." (According to Drafting Room Practice by Eugene Clute, 1928, quoted in the blog Beyond Illustration). Note that important details of the building at far left are still unresolved.
"The second image shows a general defining of the forms by establishing values throughout."
"The third image shows the final rendering with the various tonal areas detailed. The rendering was produced with carbon pencil on a fairly smooth drawing board. As you can see he drew and erased as needed to get the needed effect."
Ferriss made this drawing of an existing building, the magnificent Venetian-styled Madison Square Garden, before it was torn down in 1925. Note the unified dark tones of the foreground, and the counterchange from light-against-dark at the base of the tower to dark-against-light at the top.
People often ask me about my drawing, how I draw, what kind of sketchbooks I keep. I get a lot of illustration students sending me questionnaires and I don't usually have time to answer them. But I thought I'd do this one as a blog post, since I often post drawing here but much less often talk about what goes into making the pictures. So read on, if you're curious! These come from a student on the MA in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge school of art.
How often do you use your sketchbook?
I go through stacks and stacks of cheap Seawhite of Brighton sketchbooks every year, maybe 20 or 30. Often I don't use a sketchbook, I just grab some computer paper out of the printer. I go through a big pack of computer paper every couple months. I try to do one fun drawing every morning, but then I do lots of other work-related sketches during the day, depending on what I'm working on. If I'm doing a school or festival event, I'll probably be drawing on a flip chart, not in a sketchbook. On some of my trips, I've kept comics travel journals in these sketchbooks, A5 size. If you want a peek at them, here's one from Alaska, and one from China.
Actually, some of the Alaska sketchbook images have inspired things in both Oliver and the Seawigs and the book I'm working on right now. I mostly drew these first in pencil, then in Pentel brush pen and Faber Castell Pitt pens.
Have you always used sketchbooks from being a child (doodling) or is it something that you discovered through education? And would you now be lost without one?
I was lucky, my mother was a teacher and understood the value of having good art supplies around all the time. My sister and I had little painting easels and all the art supplies we could want: coloured pencils, crayons, watercolours, poster paint, coloured paper, even oil paints and canvases. I kept sketchbooks but my drawing wasn't limited to sketchbooks; I'd draw or paint on anything. I had a babysitter who impressed me with her drawings of feet and horses, so I remember keeping sketchbooks full of foot and horse drawings. I also played a lot of sports in school and we'd spend hours traveling by buses and ferries to basketball games and such. So I'd draw portraits of my teammates and that would keep us mildly amused. Those weren't terribly good drawings, but at least people could see the likenesses.
Do you take one with you wherever you go?
I usually do slip at least an A5 sketchbook into my handbag. But I'm happier when there's room for an A4 sketchbook and my bulky pencil case. I get cross that we women are expected to have very delicate little handbags when we're dressed up all fancy. That's so silly.
Can you complete a project without a sketchbook or is absolutely essential to the way you work?
Again, I don't necessarily need a sketchbook, but I do need lots of paper. Whenever I draw something, the first drawing doesn't tend to be very good. I don't mind that, it's like I'm getting to know whatever it is I'm drawing. In drawing, say, a portrait, I'll discover how the face works; then the second drawing will be much better, because I'll have a good grips on the face's basic architecture, and be able to concentrate on the composition, and making nice-looking lines. My favourite way to work is to make an ugly sketch on very thin paper (such as computer paper), then use my light box to draw a second drawing over the top of it, tracing the good bits and improving the things that weren't working. It's easier to use the light box if the paper's not bound into a sketchbook. But when I don't have my light box available, I'll draw in a sketchbook in pencil, maybe a couple drawings, then choose the best one and go over it in ink.
Do you set aside time to make observations in your sketchbook which are unrelated to current projects to experiment with media and ideas?
Yes, I think this is essential. This year I did a lot less sketches just for fun, and I've blogged about feeling depressed because everything has turned into pressure work; I wasn't taking any time to play. And play is essential to making my work lively and interesting, and it's the only way my drawing stays limber. One of the worst things I did was let people talk me into doing small commissions, thinking 'I can do it as one of my morning sketches, it won't take any more time'. But because I didn't have the same sort of freedom to experiment and mess up, it wasn't really play time, it was just giving myself the pressure of more deadline work. I need to stop doing that. Drawing trees in Greenwich Park has been one of the most therapeutic things I've done, I feel much fresher if I start the day that way.
Axel Scheffler recently said to our course when talking about sketchbooks about how in his final art he tried to retain the spontaneity and freshness he created in his original sketches, particularly with characters. Is that something you try to do? I find that I tighten up a lot in my final art which I find challenging to prevent and I sometimes lose the life that I created in my sketches, do you often feel this frustration and do you have ways of getting over this?
I don't think that's true for me; I think I discover the energy of a drawing while I'm doing the sketch, but a lot of that is about getting a good composition, which I can strengthen in the final drawing. I don't really like my sketches, I think the final drawings look much more exciting and pop off the page better. But I know what Axel means, I've seen artists who keep amazing sketchbooks while their final art looks a bit dead in comparison. I went to an exhibition of E.H. Shepard's Winnie the Pooh drawings at the Dulwich Picture Gallery and his pencil drawings were breathtaking. But his coloured paintings were very stiff and looked incredibly amateurish. It was rather comforting, to know that even he didn't always get things right.
Do you make notes in your sketchbook as well as drawings, are these just as important to your work?
Sometimes I make notes. If I'm writing a comic strip, for example, I might sketch out the characters but most of the notes will be in writing, with arrows and crossed-out bits. I forget plots and dialogue almost immediately so I have to write them down, but if I see the words, I can instantly remember the pictures I had in my head.
What kind of responses do you get from your agent/publisher regarding your sketchbook work throughout a project, do they spot exciting developments in your mark making/ideas that you may not be aware of?
Character sketches have been important for some of my book proposals. For example, when Philip Reeve and I pitched Oliver and the Seawigs to Oxford University Press, we included a mix of pencil and ink drawings of Sea Monkeys, Iris the mermaid, the villain Stacey de Lacey and two of the rambling isles. The story idea was kind of far-fetched (islands that walk about and sculpt flotsam and jetsam into elaborate wigs) so we wanted to make sure the editors could really picture in their heads what we were talking about. (Check out Philip's sketchbook Tumblr; he also studied at Cambridge school of art.)
And David O'Connell and I drew a whole Comics Jam which we pitched to our publisher, which turned into our published Jampires picture book. (Our sketchbooks were the scanned pages we'd send back and forth to each other, page by page.) Here's one of the sketchbook pages, when we were adapting the comic into a picture book:
For my second book with OUP (Cakes in Space), the editor was already happy with the text and didn't need a pitch so I went into doing thumbnails roughs and pencil roughs (which are a little bit like working in a sketchbook; they're very rough drawings). For my third book with Philip, it has a larger cast, so I've created a sheet with all the characters drawn onto it. But some of them have already changed quite a bit, now that I'm doing the pencil roughs.
Has a random scribble in a sketchbook started a whole new project for you out of nowhere?
Yes! In fact, my latest book, Scribble was inspired by something I doodled and tacked onto my studio wall. It was an actual scribble, with teeth, eyes and legs. A year or so later, I wrote a little story about it and tucked away the Word document in my files. When Dan Berry invited me to be a part of the team making 24-Hour Comics for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, I was able to use the scribble and the manuscript as the starting point for my story, which became a 24-page comic book in the short span of 24 hours. (You can read it online here.)
Do you look back at old sketches for inspiration and ideas if you're going through a patch where you don't feel so creative?
You know, I don't ever really feel uncreative; I always have more projects in mind than I could possibly carry out. But having a blog full of drawings is very helpful. I have a terrible memory, so going back through those drawings reminds me of ideas I've had. For example, Philip Reeve was looking at my blog and saw I'd done a drawing of Sea Monkeys. He brought it up while we were working on the story, and that conversation inspired the Sea Monkeys which appear in Oliver and the Seawigs.
I think the best times in my entire life have been making sketches; there's something about losing myself in whatever it is I'm looking at that's almost like a drug. And there's nothing more companionable that drawing with other people. My husband doesn't draw very often, but some of my favourite times with him have been when we've gone on walks and done drawings together. I love collaborating with people and some of my best work has come out of collaboration. Even in the Scribble comic, my favourite page is one I let the art students help me with:
I'm quite gentle with myself when I draw for fun; I can approach my drawing from two different angles: the first is the critical approach where I scrutinise it and judge what worked and what failed. If I didn't do that, I'd never improve. But the second approach is almost motherly; I see my drawing as something that has a life of its own, and just like a child, it might not be perfect, but I know it's trying its best. So I'm quite affectionate toward it, and I don't scrunch it up in a ball and get angry. (That would be like beating my child for not being perfect. Kids need hugs, not beatings, and it's the same with drawings.) I think I'll only keep moving forward with my work if I can always keep those two approaches balanced.
I've posted some more thoughts on my Frequently Asked Questions page. And if you'd like to learn more about how different illustrators work, I'd recommend listening to a series of podcasts by Dan Berry called Make It Then Tell Everybody. He interviews some of the best people in the business and they give loads of interesting insights into how they all work. Everyone works very differently and the most important thing is just to make and keep making every day, whether it involves a sketchbook, making sculpture, playing with your food or drawing silly faces on your tummy and then shooting a video of your belly button singing David Bowie songs. Sometimes the silliest things turn out to be the most inspiring.
Kylie Westaway is the author of her popular debut picture book, Whale in the Bath. She has literally travelled far and wide, worked in foreign schools, events and in theatre. But there’s one thing that has remained constant in her life; her love of writing. Here, I’ll give you the brief run-down of her captivating […]
Note: This post is full of spoilers. On the off chance you have never read Charlotte’s Web, stop everything and go read it, then come back.
I just finished reading Charlotte’s Web aloud to my son, and was surprised how often I was choked up while reading it. I expected the final chapter to destroy me, but not so much in the middle chapters, even the quiet ones: Wilbur’s bucolic day-to-day existence and the charming banter of animals was as likely to make me swallow hard and take five (my son staring at me in confusion) as Wilbur learning his fate from the old sheep.
I think what gets to me is Charlotte’s and Wilbur’s platonic love. Maybe all great middle-grade books are essentially about friendship, but no friendship is more peculiar and perfect than Wilbur’s and Charlotte’s. All my childhood I waited for that little voice to whisper from the darkness that she was there for me, and would reveal herself in the morning.
But as I grow older, Charlotte is not the friend I aspire to have, but the friend I aspire to be. She reaches out to Wilbur when he is muddy and pathetic and hasn’t a friend in the world. Her friendship transforms Wilbur, just by holding up a mirror of her own admiration. Soon the whole barnyard is swept up by her enthusiasm. The old sheep and the geese and even the bratty lambs start treating Wilbur with more respect. In turn, Wilbur considers Charlotte’s myriad legs and plump gray body and bloodsucking lifestyle and pronounces her beautiful, an unshaken belief until the end.
It is Charlotte’s gesture of friendship upon which the entire book revolves. It is also the source of the inspiration for her own life-changing art.
I was actually less weepy at the end than I expected, perhaps because the boy was so squirmy and distracting (while also steadfastly insisting I keep reading). He was so blank-faced when Charlotte died I had to make sure he understood what just happened (he did). He was impatient through the next passages, but delighted by the baby spiders, and so eager to announce we were finished he missed the lovely “true friend and good writer,” bit at the very end. It was hard to be emotional with such an impatient audience.
However, there is one sentence I was unable to read. I saw it, knew I couldn’t read it, and simply turned the page. It’s the last sentence in the second-to-last chapter, and may be the saddest line ever to appear in a book for children. I won’t even put it here. It’s no better typing it than reading it aloud.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of Charlotte’s Web is that it never once mentions God, which leads to some confusion about the plot: why is Wilbur, and not Charlotte, the subject of praise and wonder? In an increasingly secular world, the disposition of rural folk to attribute the unknown to the hand of God is less and less obvious.
Mrs. Zuckerman more than once suggests that the spider is the real phenomenon, but her husband dismisses her. It’s just a plain old gray spider, he says. Mr. Zuckerman uses words like “wonder” and “miracle” to describe what happens, and consults his minister, who gives a sermon, but nobody uses the G word. I suspect that it is because White, or perhaps Ursula Nordstrom, felt that they were perilously close to mocking faith itself, or would be seen as doing so. They played it safe by alluding to miracles and wonders without naming their presumptive Source.
White was a skeptic, but a devout worshiper of nature, and his masterpiece is a statement of faith: we don’t need a celestial creator; the spider is miracle enough. White picks up the Emerson strand of enlightened animism that runs through the American canon (especially poetry). It’s a faith but not a religion, and captures my own faith better than any religious text.
The doctor serves as White’s mouthpiece, giving his lecture to Fern’s mother, in a scene I had completely forgotten and will probably forget again. (It has no children in it, and no animals. It made my son restless.)
Charlotte’s Web is beloved by writers for its smooth rhythms and pastoral descriptions, its epic catalogs of the humdrum. Reading it aloud tuned my ears to its stylistic mastery. There’s a reason the award for best read-aloud books is named for White. The style subsumes the story at times, as White patiently reels off the signs of seasonal changes, for example, or gives an exhaustive, almost ostentatious, list of things to eat at a fair or the contents of a junk pile. A certain type of children’s book reviewer is inclined to say they are “too much for children,” these languorous passages, just as critics have opined since its publication that Charlotte’s Web is too sad for children, that the sadness is ill-matched with the humor, that White bungled by establishing Fern as a main character just to demote her in chapter three. White’s children’s books do have structural peculiarities, but so do Andersen’s fairy tales. They defy our critical apparatuses. Children gleefully read, love, and cry over the book anyway, decade after decade.
When authors appeal to all ages they are said to appeal to the childlike hearts of older readers, but I think White appeals to the old souls in children.
Charlotte is also a writer, of sorts: literally spinning words that shine in the morning sunlight, transforming the lives of the ones she cares most about. And so I aspire to be a friend like Charlotte, and also a writer like Charlotte, with her tireless commitment to high-minded goals and no longing for personal reward. I more often feel like Wilbur, tying an old string to his tail and leaping off of a manure pile. Perhaps it is only by disappearing into the woodwork that a writer can see his or work work become, to those staring in wonder, divine.
It was a weekend of many things—a race through every lit hour, the mind awake at 2 AM, the body running (again) two hours on. Don't forget. Do. Go.
Then, mid-afternoon, today, I was walking back to the car, having taken a very tiny Italian pine tree to my mother's grave. Having reset the wreathe my father had planted there. Having had a quiet conversation.
I had parked, deliberately, at a distance. I had wanted not to hurry through this visit with my mother at Christmas. She has been gone eight years. We talk, still.
It's easy to think of winter as leaching the color from things. Today, returning to the car, less speed in me, more calm, I stopped to see how winter is (in fact) its own quite perfect palette.
As everyone may already know, plans are in full swing for our second Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 27th! Created by myself and the amazing Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom and myself, event has a goal of not only shing the spotlight on all of the amazing diverse and multicultural children books, authors and illustrators, but also to get these very books into the hands of the children who need them.
As we mentioned, we are collaboring with the Children’s Book Council who reached out to its members to highlight the authors and illustrators of multicultural children’s books!
Please welcome (in alphabetical order):
Tracey Baptistewas born in Trinidad, where she grew up on jumbie stories and fairy tales. Her debut, a young adult novel titled Angel’s Grace, was named one of the 100 best books for reading and sharing by New York City librarians. Tracey is a former teacher, textbook editor, ballerina, and amateur librarian who once started up a library in her house in the hope that everyone would bring their books back late and she would be rich! You know, like other librarians. She is now a wife and mom and lives in New Jersey, where she writes and edits books for kids from a very cozy office in her house that is filled with more toys than she can count. The Jumbies is her second novel.
Kathleen Benson is the coauthor of many picture books, including John Lewis in the Lead, which was illustrated by Benny Andrews. She lives in New York, New York.
Tonya Bolden’s work has garnered many accolades, including the Coretta Scott King Honor Award, James Madison Book Award, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, YALSA Best Book of the Year, and CCBC Best Book of the Year. She lives in New York City.
Tricia Brown is an author, editor, and book developer. She travels often and is a popular speaker in schools, libraries, and events in Alaska as well as the Lower 48. Her multimedia presentations, which include lessons on Alaska natural history and culture, regularly receive high praise from educators and parents. She loves to get kids excited about reading, writing, and art.
Andrea Cheng is the daughter of Hungarian immigrants. She writes picture books and middle grade and young adult novels, and also teaches English as a Second Language and children’s literature. She walks daily near her Ohio home. She writes the Anna Wang series (The Year of the Three Sisters).
Kris Dinnison has spent nearly two decades as a teacher and librarian. Nowadays, she helps run the retail and café businesses she owns with her husband, hikes, and spins classic vinyl. This is her debut YA novel. She lives in Spokane, Washington.
Sharon M. Draper is a New York Times bestselling author who has received the Coretta Scott King Award for both Copper Sunand Forged by Fire. Her Out of My Mind has won multiple awards and has been a New York Times bestseller for more than a year. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year.
Matt de la Peñais the author of five critically-acclaimed young adult novels: Ball Don’t Lie, Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, I Will Save You and The Living. He’s also the author of the award-winning picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louisillustrated by Kadir Nelson. Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. de la Peña currently lives in Brooklyn NY. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.
Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome are a husband-wife team who have collaborated on many award-winning picture books for children. These include Satchel Paige, which was an ALA Best Book for Children and a Booklist Top Ten Sports Book for Youth, and Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass, which received starred reviews in Booklist and School Library Journal. The Quilt Alphabet was praised as “a blue-ribbon ABC book that combines bright, folksy oil paintings and lilting riddle-poems” in a starred review in Publishers Weekly and called “a feast for the eyes” in School Library Journal.
JaNay Brown-Wood dreams big. Ever since she was a little girl, she’s wanted to become a published author. Her determination has paid off. Imani’s Moon is her first book for children. JaNay is also a professor of early childhood education. She lives in California.
Karen English is a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winning author who lives in Los Angeles, California. Her books have been praised for their accessible writing, authentic characters, and satisfying story lines. Karen is a retired elementary school teacher, and she wrote these stories with her students in mind.
Desirae Foston is a designer and artist based in Brooklyn, NY.
Rachel Isadora received a Caldecott Honor for Ben’s Trumpet, and has written and illustrated numerous other books for children, including Bea at Ballet, Jake at Gymnastics, Say Hello!, Peekaboo Bedtime, the Lili at Ballet series, and several classic tales set in Africa (including Old Mikamba Had a Farm, There was a Tree, The Night Before Christmas, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, and The Princess and the Pea). She lives in New York City.
Kekla Magoon is an award-winning author of many young adult novels, including The Rock and the River, for which she received the 2010 Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Kekla Magoon lives in New York City.
Meg Medinais the author of The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind and the picture book Tía Isa Wants a Car, illustrated by Claudio Muñoz, which won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Her most recent young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, is the winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, she grew up in Queens, New York, and now lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Jason Reynolds is crazy. About stories. After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it all before he gets home. He is the author of the critically acclaimed When I Was the Greatest and The Boy in the Black Suit.
Kashmira Shethwas four years old at the first Indian wedding she remembers, and she still cherishes the memory of the festivities in her grandparents’ house. Since then she has attended many weddings but, unlike Sona, has never successfully stolen a groom’s shoes. She is the author of many acclaimed books, including Tiger in My Soup, My Dadima Wears a Sari, and Monsoon Afternoon. Sheth teaches at Pine Manor College, in their Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program.
Conrad J. Storad is an award-winning author and editor of more than 50 science and nature books for children, Conrad J. Storad is committed to helping students better understand and appreciate the natural world. Conrad visits many schools to teach and entertain children and is now approaching his visit with his millionth student. In 2006, Don’t Call Me Pig!(A Javelina Story) was selected by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to promote reading, and more than 93,000 first-graders received a special edition copy. In 2012, Storad’s Arizona Way Out West & Witty, coauthored with Lynda Exley, was selected to represent Arizona as part of the “52 Great Reads” program run annually at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
Eric Velasquez was born in Spanish Harlem in New York City. The awards he has won include a Pura Belpré and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award. He lives in New York State with his family.
Laura Rose Wagner has a PhD in anthropology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She lived in Port-au-Prince from 2009 to 2012, and survived the earthquake. She travels to Haiti often, and founded a creative writing group for young people there.
Brenda Woods was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, raised in southern California, and attended California State University, Northridge. She is the award-winning author of several books for young readers: Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box, The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, Voya Top Shelf Fiction selection Emako Blue, My Name is Sally Little Song, and A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her numerous awards and honors include the Judy Lopez Memorial Award, FOCAL award, Pen Center USA’s Literary Award finalist, IRA Children’s Choice Young Adult Fiction Award, and ALA Quick Pick. She lives in the Los Angeles area.
Natasha Yim was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At ten, her family moved to Hong Kong, where Natasha attended a very Harry Potter-esque secondary school. This is where she was turned on to writing. She moved to the United States to attend college where she studied Psychology and English Literature. Natasha is the author of Sacajawea of the Shoshone, Cixi: “The Dragon Empress”, and Otto’s Rainy Day. She lives in Ukiah, California.
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The Albert Camus Award for Short Fiction created by Red Savina Review to champion writers whose short fiction explores and challenges the notion of human being in the twenty-first century.
First prize $300; Second $100; Third $50; One Honorable mention plus publication in RSR’s in Spring Issue Online.
The award will be given to writers whose fiction strips away the conceits of being human in an attempt to clear the way for human being. Entries judged by Guest Editor Khanh Ha recipient of Greensboro Review’s Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction.
Wouldn't it be lovely if everybody loved books as much as Madison does? What an inspiration she is! (Click the image to read the article on Vox, "If everyone loved reading as much as this 8-year-old does, the world would be better," and see the video.)
NORTH CAROLINA-(BASN)- I Can’t Breathe!!! Yes. The entire world has been put in a chokehold, as we slowly grasp for air, after there were no indictments in the murder of Eric Garner, who died in a July confrontation with the NYPD and Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, who was fatally shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, allegedly with his “Hands Up.” Yes, it’s a difficult to breathe during times like these. Matter of fact, it feels like Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall trying to breathe after running a Fly pattern with two cracked ribs and a collapsed lung. Oh, yes!! It is difficult to breathe like trying to run a 2-minute offense with a bad case of asthma in Denver, Colorado at Mile High Stadium in December. And so, while we desperately try to find some oxygen, we, all, become faint and light headed, as the sports world and the political world meet face-to-face, as the smoke from the burning buildings and tear gas from the “Riot police” linger in the atmosphere, which causes all of us to choke. “I Can’t Breathe!!!”
Someone, anyone, please, offer me mouth to mouth resuscitation. (CPR)
It’s like a scene from Do The Right Thing-Radio Raheem!!!
I Can’t Breathe!!! Yes, art imitates life!!! But, for Christ sake…. “I Can’t Breathe!!!” And, shockingly, as the world watched an innocence man die at the hands of injustice, through a different lens, they viewed the same tragic event with different eyes. He is guilty. He shouldn’t have resisted. He was a huge man. I saw a “demon..a hulk..” Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we try to deceive… “I Can’t Breathe!!!” After all of this, as an athlete, what do you do, what do you say? Especially, after “white” commentators continue to describe you as a “BEAST,” “A MONSTER,” and a “HORSE” after a touchdown, a Slam-Dunk, or a vicious tackle. Do you play or protest? Or, do you simply remain silent, pretending that the killing of an innocence Black man at the hands of the cops doesn’t affect you and your children because you have a million dollar contract and some colorful Nike shoes. “I Can’t Breathe!!!” Seriously, what are you going to do? Play or Protest? I mean, the chants are getting louder outside the arena. “Shut it down; shut it down, Eric Garner, Michael Brown!!” Are you going to pretend not to hear the cries of the people? Are you embarrassed? Do you really think you can drown out the voices of the people with your Beats by Dre headphones? “I Can’t Breathe!!!” Feel the pressure around your chest…. “I Can’t Breathe!!!” With over 17, 732 people at the Barclay Center, along with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the duke and duchess of Cambridge, Will and Kate-in the audience, what do you do?
I know you are nervous?
Are you afraid you’re going to be fired? Or lose your endorsements?
“I Can’t Breathe!!!”
The chants are getting louder, eating at your conscience.
“No Justice, No Peace!!!”
Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose was bold enough to do it along with the Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush.
Plus, the St.Louis Rams, whose Rams Park is about 8 miles from Ferguson, showed their solidarity to the family of Michael Brown, when Kenny Britt and four other wide receivers posed with their Hands Up during the pre-game intro.
Even some players from the dysfunctional football team in Washington, DC showed that they were down for the “cause” despite not boycotting their own team’s racist nickname.
Time is ticking.
You Can’t Ignore It.
And without hesitation, Cleveland Cavs stars Lebron James and Kyrie Irving and several Brooklyn Nets players, including Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack, and Alan Anderson, bravely displayed their T-shirts with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” during the pre-game warm-ups, which were the last words spoken by Eric Garner before his unfortunately demise.
And, to be honest, when I saw Lebron James sporting his “I Can’t Breathe” tee-shirt, I felt a “little” “choked-up” as well.
Why? Because, the King has spoken.
Now, the ball is in our court.
Eric D.Graham, a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, where he received a B.A. in Mass Communication with a concentration in Radio and Television, with a minor in History, with an emphasis in African-American Studies, is currently the Managing Editor of Black Athlete Sports Network, where his articles appear daily along with his controversial cartoon character Bobbee Bee “The Hater.” Graham can be reached at email@example.com or go to www.bobbeethehater.blogspot.com
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.
I love all of the great sales in December. I went nuts at Harlequin.com last week – they had a BOGO sale so I BOGO’ed my little heart out. They also have a new reward program, and I was able to pick up TALON by Julie Kagawa for FREE, as well as Smoke River Bride, which I have had my eye for what seems like forever.
My favorite arrival, though, was my new Kindle Fire HDX 7”. Amazon had an awesome sale, and I was able to pick up a 7″ HDX Display, Wi-Fi, Optional 4G LTE Wireless, with 32GB for $149 bucks! I LOVE this thing! Borrowing ebooks from the library is a breeze! There’s a Scribd app so I can access my subscription account on it, and I downloaded the Overdrive app so I can read my Harlequin digital books on it. Between this and my Kindle Paperwhite, I have no desire to read a paper book again, and I NEVER thought I would say that.
How was your week? Are you ready for Christmas?
Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.
New Arrivals at the Café:
I had to buy some new books to test out the HDX, right??
The Remaining: Fractured (1.99)
The Remaining: Refugees (1.99)
I’d Tell You That I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill YOu (Borrowed from library)
The Heretic Queen (1.99)
The Road to Hell is Paved with Zombies (FREE)
Her Highland Fling
Christmas Cowboy Duet by Marie Ferrarella
The Wrong Cowboy by Lauri Robinson
Pregnant by the Texan by Sara Orwig
Texas Mom by Roz Denny Fox
Montana Vet by Ann Roth
Because of the Baby… by Cat Schield
The Rancher’s City Girl by Patricia Johns
The New Cowboy by Rebecca Winters
The SEAL’s Holiday Babies by Tina Leonard
Romancing the Rancher by Stacy Connelly
More Than Neighbors by Janice Kay Johnson
Rodeo Dreams by Sarah M. Anderson
Cowboy in the Making by Julie Benson
His Favorite Cowgirl by Leigh Duncan
Crossing Nevada by Jeannie Watt
Once a Champion by Jeannie Watt
The Ranch Solution by Julianna Morris
Smoke River Bride (Free with reward points!)
A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!
Before I actually do the tag, today is Gaudete Sunday, and my little niece Chloe received her
First Holy Communion today.
She was so excited, it was so cute. She was shaking when she went up to receive, she was so jazzed. We were all so proud. :-) (That is an example of how NOT to repeat the word "So" so often.) Anyhoozle, hope your Advent continues well!
Now, for Bella's Tag.
So the RULES to this tag are as follows:
1.) Link back to the person who tagged you. 2.) Answer the Questions (which are not supplied here, but given via Bella's blog.) 3.)Tag five (or more - hahahahaha) people.
Soooooo, I linked. :-)
Here are the questions lifted from Bella's blog:
1.) When does the Christmas season officially 'start' in your house? Officially?... It starts AFTER Christmas. Right now we're in the Advent season. However, if you're talking about Christmas SPIRIT, it kind of rolls up (on me) on Thanksgiving.
2.) What is your earliest memory of Christmas? I remember being super little, like three or four, and waking up and smiling into one of my older sisters' face as she woke me and hissed, "It's Christmas!" I remember thinking, "Wow, Christmas. That's so cool!"
3.) What is something that is something that is iconically (if that's even a word) Christmas for you or your family? Probably the food. Christmas morning is the only day in the world that we have Italian sausage and soft rolls and orange juice for breakfast, and usually the *main* day that we have gnocchi and ham for dinner. We also do the Advent wreath and sing O Come Emmanuel at dinner.
4.) What are some of your Christmas Traditions? We always listen to O Holy Night (Nat "King" Cole version and Josh Groban version) on Thanksgiving. We also watch Holiday Inn on Thanksgiving. We celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6 and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. We do the Advent wreath and do Christmas rings, counting down the days to Christmas. We decorate the house, usually starting around December 6th or 8th. We bake and make gnocchi the week before Christmas. We watch Christmas movies. Many, many, many. :-)
5.) What is one of the traditions that you want to carry on even after you're married? Just one? I want to make gnocchi and ham every Christmas, and I definitely want to keep the tradition of Epiphany.
6.) What if your favorite thing when preparing for Christmas? The baking, decorating or cleaning? The decorating. Totally, the decorating.
7.) What is a special/unique Christmas memory? About 23 years ago my Grandpa passed, right around Christmas time, and my mom was not here for Christmas. So all of us kids at home saved one present and left it under the tree, and when she got back in January we celebrated our first Epiphany on January 6th, and we have celebrated it ever since.
8.) What do you like better, giving or receiving gifts? I LOVE giving gifts. I sit right next to the person and am like, "Open it more... and more... and more... can you guess what it is from the box? Huh, huh, can ya, can ya?"
9.) What are some of your favorite Christmas cartoons? Mickey's Christmas Carol. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The First White Christmas - The Story of the First Christmas Snow.
10.) What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? It's A Wonderful Life (My absolute FAVORITE.) Angel In the House (a recent discovery). Silent Night. A Christmas Carol with Reginald Owen. (These are the four I NEED to watch.)
After that I like to watch: One Magic Christmas. While You Were Sleeping. Doctor Who (Eleven's) Christmas Specials. A Keaton Christmas Carol.
11.) Do you have a real Christmas tree or an artificial tree? We have an artificial. I am of two minds between real and artificial. I love the smell and authenticity of real. I don't like how they shed needles or die so soon. However, I don't like how fake smell... odd, but I do like that you can leave them up through the entire season.
12.) Do you have a favorite Christmas book/story? The Crib of Bo'Bossu. Makes me cry. EVERY time.
13.) What is your favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night (Josh Groban and Nat Cole's version) Believe (Josh Groban)\ What Child is This (Josh Groban and another version that is a group version that I can't find that I LOVE.) Little Drummer Boy (Tennessee Ernie Ford and Josh Groban) In the Bleak Midwinter (Julie Andrews) The Little Road to Bethlehem (Hayley Westenra) Peace Shall Come (Hayley Westenra) And too many others too count. But those are the top seven I could recall one after the other.
A contribution for the “Sunday Sentence” project, a sentence I've read this week, no explanation or commentary.
"But I am a scientist, and like all scientists, I am trained to deflect heat rays, escape space dragons, and safely land a lifeboat capsule on the cooler parts of the sun." M. T. Anderson, He Laughed With His Other Mouths, A Pals in Peril Tale.
Hi folks, ah, the holidays, and of course, I'm running a little behind. This month I'm offering a little series I called Gifts. This will be short and sweet. There is a story in the Bible in the book of Ezekiel. This my retelling. Here how it starts. The Lord takes Ezekiel to valley of dry bones and asks him if the bones can live.
Ezekiel answers, "Lord only knows."
The Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones.
(We don't prophesy in these days, and I sure do feel left out. The idea of a prophesy is to let someone know what is coming in the future. If you are a writer, you might understand this more than most.)
Back to the story. Ezekiel shouted to those bones."You dead bones, this is the Lord talking and not me -- I'm sending breath in you. And you will come alive. I'll put tendons, and flesh, and skin on you. I'll say it again, I'm putting breath in you, and will be alive. And the whole world will know I am the Lord!"
After that there was a noise. Bones rattled! They snapped together. Then came the tendons, and flesh and the skin. But instead of folks, there was a pile of dead bodies.
The Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy again. "Wind from the four corner of the Earth come into these dead bodies and make them live." And the wind came and a mighty army sprung up, rearing for a fight.
Then the Lord told Ezekiel what it all meant. "Those bones are my people.They have lost hope. They think they are dead. I'm going to make them alive and I'm going to give them the little corner they are hankering for. Let them know I'm doing this because that's the way I am."
To wrap this up, if you feel like an old pile of dead bones, and you are wondering if you will ever get a chance to snap together and march out there and take your corner. Remember this story. Wait for the wind.
I will be back next week with another of the Gifts series.
Here is a doodle. "The sun, Moon, and the stars"
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. Marie Curie
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It sneaks up when you're unprepared And pulls the rug from under, Full knowing you would not have dared To fight to save your thunder. For, unlike fog, with cat-like feet, Exhaustion isn't fleeting. When age and too much action meet, It could be self-defeating. A younger soul than I might last Until that fog has lifted, But time's been moving much too fast; The balance might have shifted.
Yesterday, an exhibition of John Howe's artwork opened at the Maison d' Ailleurs museum in Yverdon, Switzerland. John Howe is a Canadian artist living in Neuchâtel who has worked alongside Alan Lee as the main concept artist on Peter Jackson's films The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Purchase from Prizm, Amazon– Vendor sites will be updated on the author’s site.
Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother's briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High. Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, she thinks no one will figure out they're the Battles from recent news and that they're safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed Deidra's life. Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.
2. Reading I'm trying to get in a lot of reading this week. I've gotten behind on the books I need to read and review, and now it's time to catch up. 3. Editing Another week of editing for clients. :) 4. Renovations I finally have a kitchen! Okay, it's not 100% finished. We still need to finish the backsplash, but my new countertop and new sink are both in! Yay! The den is also finished. The floor is down and the walls and window casings are painted. Unfortunately, my carpet for the upstairs won't be installed until the 29th though, so not in time for Christmas. 5. Getting Ready for the Holidays Did I mention I'm hosting Christmas and the house is still a mess? Yup, it is. Furniture everywhere. Unwrapped presents everywhere. I feel like I could be on an episode of Hoarders. *sigh* The good news is that it HAS to get cleaned up before Christmas, so this can't last much longer. That's it for me. What's on your mind today? Add a Comment