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16176. A-txtng U Shall Go! - a Wednesday Writing Workout

Welcome 2 2day’s Wednesday Writing Workout, a Txtng Mini-lesson of sorts– and – our continuing TeachingAuthor celebration of my new baby board book soon to arrive in stores  everywhere, TXTNG MAMA TXTNG BABY.

Remember: our celebration includes a Book Giveaway of TWO signed copies of this perfect baby gift of a book, so click HERE for the details and be sure to enter by next Tuesday, August 13.
As I wrote in Monday’s post, it is a Techy-Techy World for 2day’s Babies.
But while researching Texting’s history and the gazillion pros and cons that surround this newest means of expression, I was surprised to learn from linguist David Crystal, author of TXTNG The gr8 db8  (Oxford University, 2009) that

(1) texting’s been around a mighty long time and
(2) most popular beliefs about texting are incorrect, or at least, debatable.
“Its graphic distinctiveness is not a totally new phenomenon,” Crystal writes.  “Nor is its use restricted to the young generation.  There is increasing evidence that it helps rather than hinders literacy.  And only a very tiny part of the language uses its distinctive orthography.”

According to Crystal, “Texting has added a new dimension to language use, indeed, but its long-term impact on the already existing varieties of language is likely to be negligible.  It is not a bad thing.”

Crystal identifies several distinctive features of texting, many of which suggest novelty but children’s literature proves otherwise.

For instance, logograms, which use “single letters, numerals and typographic symbols to represent words, parts of words, or even – as in the case of x and z – noises associated with actions.”
Think b, 2, @, x for kiss.
And William Steig’s C D B, first published by Simon & Schuster in 1968!

And Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s WUMBERS (Chronicle Books, 2012).
I especially Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld’s dedication:
“We dedic8 this book 2 William Steig, the cr8or of CDB! (cer10ly the inspiration for this book) and so many other cla6.”

In logograms, the pronunciation is what matters, not the visual shape.
Think  : )    (smile)
Think :  (    (frown)

An initialism is “the reduction of words to their initial letters.
Think NATO and BBC.  (They are often called acronyms.)
But also think BFF, OMG, GF.
And Lauren Myracle’s ttfn.

Other features include omitted letters (bunsn brnr, txtng, msg), nonstandard spellings (cuz, thanx, ya), shortenings (doc, gov, mob) and genuine novelties (IMHO/in my humble opinion).

What gr8 fn I had imagining Mama’s n Baby’s conversation, using a variety of text features 2 cr8 a book which seems to have some very nice (language) company.  The teacher in me also liked learning the names of Texting's features. 
I hope you did too!
Esther Hershenhorn


              A-txtng U shall go!

Choose any 2 characters – real, imagined, animal, human, and get them talking, or rather, TXTNG (!) on their smart phones and/or tablets.

What’s the situation?
What’s the problem?
What’s the setting?

What’s the time?

Are the 2 characters Happy? Sad? Confused? Angry? Hopeful?  Plotting? Nasty? Kind?
Are they young or old or middle-aged?

How does each come at his or her hand-held device?
Word choice, expressions, phrasing, rhythms - and this case, spellings - connote VOICE!

Think about your beginning – the inciting incident of sorts that gets the conversation rolling, your middle, your end. 

Remember what dialogue does for a story: i.e.
(1)   informs the reader
(2)  advances the story
(3)  reveals character

And don’t forget to use a variety of text features!

1 Comments on A-txtng U Shall Go! - a Wednesday Writing Workout, last added: 8/7/2013
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16177. Back to school…

Here in Atlanta, school starts TODAY, August 7, but vacation begins at the beginning of May. I don’t know why our schedule is so early. Maybe it has to do with the growing season… with kids needing to be out early to work on the farm or something…

In any case, I like it.  I like that vacation comes FAST.

And I like that the kids go back to school before I begin to lose my mind.

This summer I didn’t really have any childcare.  We took one long 2-3 week road trip, to Iowa City, Chicago, and Battle Creek.  But mostly we’ve just been home, reading and swimming and shouting and laughing and eating popsicles and arguing about how many more minutes of Minecraft are allowed.

It’s been lovely.

But now I’m ready to GET BACK TO WORK.

Have fun at school, Mose and Lew. Learn lots of cool stuff!

I’ll just be here, scribbling.


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16178. Alvin Schwartz previously unpublished interview, 6/6/06; part 2 of 3

Part 1.

Let me go back to Bill [Finger]’s home for a minute. Did you ever go over there when he was working and see what his workspace looked like?

Oh, yeah, I’ve been in Bill’s place many times.

What was it like?

Ordinaire. Pretty plain. It wasn’t sloppy or anything. He kept his files meticulously. Enormous files.

Was that like a filing cabinet?

Yes, he had it all in—well, you’ve heard about his famous gimmick book?


All that stuff was sort of pulled together. I’m trying to remember whether it was in book form or files or what. But in general, Bill was a neat man, personally. He was tidy. He was not very sloppy. He was always well dressed, clean.

Did he have a special place that he would work in his house?

Can’t tell you that. Most of the time, we were just talking and walking just back and forth if we took the typewriters.

Remingtons, right?

So he sets the typewriter anywhere, on a table or with a chair.

Was Bill Jewish?


Was that important to him?

Um…I didn’t get the feeling that it was any more than it was so important to me at that time. [sic]

So it wasn’t a factor in his life really?

No, not that I know of.

Were you in touch with Bill for his whole life?

I was in touch with Bill up until he married this dingbat, this bimbo. He was always looking for a romance. He was always in love with somebody who wouldn’t look at him. He married Portia, he wasn’t happy with her, but Portia took care of him and she was the real man of the family. She ran things. I don’t know what the hell he would’ve done without her. She was a good woman. She was not that attractive. She was fat and she was bossy and she had to be.

Bill remarried someone?

He remarried later on. I discovered—I was by this time long gone from comics but I kept in touch with Bill. I was [unintelligible] big stuff in the market research world. I’ve left comics—I figured this is not a place to make a living. I was miserable working for Mort Weisinger. Comics were down very much at that time. I sort of jumped into something else, maybe even using my comics skills. [talks about his successful career in advertising]

At that time, you did not stay in touch with Bill?

As a matter of fact I did stay in touch with Bill. I visited. Now when I moved to Canada in 1968, I didn’t see Bill for some—I had seen Bill at his apartment and Jerry Robinson was always hanging around. And this bimbo that Bill had married was making passes at me. And I know she was making passes at Jerry. She was making passes at any man who walked into that place. Bill didn’t know it. What are you going to do, tell him? Now I have very uncomfortable feelings about what Jerry was doing there. Now by the way I want to say that Jerry’s artwork is something I’ve always admired. Jerry as a person I really don’t know so I don’t have too much to say. He was there quite frequently toward the last—when I left to go to Canada. Well, I’m still in Canada. I came back after eight years and the first person I wanted to see was Bill. I knew right away he probably couldn’t be married to that bimbo anymore so I called Portia. And Portia said “Didn’t you know that Bill has been dead for the last x number of years?” I think five years, she said. Now I knew Bill was having heart problems. I knew about the first attack. I knew about his chicken soup, which was his idea to cure—he couldn’t drink strong coffee. I didn’t drink at work but a lot of us did.

What did you say about chicken soup? I didn’t get that.

Bill regarded chicken soup as the best picker-upper. [He ate?] loads of it. He had to be careful with his heart. I was there at the time of the first heart attack, but I was not there—I missed his—I didn’t know about his death because we didn’t correspond.

Was the chicken soup just after his heart attack?

No, he’d always sort of gone into that. He wasn’t a drinker. He didn’t do it the way most of the other guys did.

You were actually with him when he had his first attack?

No, I was not. He told me about it in detail but I wasn’t there.

Was Bill living in Manhattan when he died?


Do you know anything about his funeral? Did people go?

I don’t know anything about it because all I got was from Portia. I had a double shock. When I called Bill I found out he was dead.

Do you know where Bill is buried?

I have no idea. [None of those things?] was I involved in.

Do you have any photos of him?

No I don’t.

Do you know if anybody does?


[then talks about how he lived in two worlds, literary and comic book, says the people in that essay he wrote where he and Bill were plotting a Plastic Man story were his friends, not Bill’s]

Was Bill jealous of that?

No, Bill wasn’t jealous of that. We didn’t discuss it much. He himself was always interested in literature, but he never got involved in that world and he wasn’t writing anything that would lead him into it. But I lived in these two different worlds. But Bill’s world was pretty much the comic book world. Bill and I tried to do some other things. We worked on The Mark Trail Show. I have an old script that Bill and I did. That was a radio show.

Do you have anything else of Bill’s as a memento?

All I have is that. It’s on the shelf looking at me.

If there was one thing that you would want conveyed in a book about Bill, what would it be?

I don’t think I can boil it down to that. That’s a journalistic—I would have many things to say in many different ways. I can’t answer that. How do you sum up somebody you cared about, have partial relationship with? Bill in a way was my connection with the comic book world although I didn’t get into comics through Bill. In fact, I met Bill because I had a friend who was in comics who lived in the same apartment house and we all were friends together. Got to know each other. It became a gathering place. And that was John Small who was an artist who worked for Fairy Tale Parade. He’s the one who actually got me into comics.

Was that in Greenwich Village?

That was in Greenwich Village.

Are there any anecdotes about Bill particularly that stick out in your mind fondly?

I think I’ve given them to you.

Anything that you haven’t said? A little moment in passing that defines him in another way?

Well, I remember the fact that when he did come out to visit when he was in this terrible condition, he had Freddie with him. Portia had to do something and he had to look after Freddie. And we went out on an expedition. We took our kids, and every once in a while we had to stop, tie Freddie’s shoelaces, and pull up his pants. And Freddie was about six or seven at this time. And Bill—it wasn’t that he wasn’t paying attention to him. He just wasn’t fatherly enough to think of these things, he didn’t know about being a father. And so Portia had taken over the entire role. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about him. He did.

Part 3.

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16179. Verb Collection

If you’re like me when you’re revising, you’re finding some really lame versions of constantly using weak verbs. Probably a lot of walking, looking or staring.

I have my beloved The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale but I’m finding that collecting verbs from novels put the word in context. You can see how the author is using the verb for effect and then you can take that same verb and use it in your own unique way.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and I’m loving the verbs I’ve been adding to my collection. Using a strong verb makes your character come alive on the page. Less passive and more active.

Do you have any word special word collections? What’s your process of revising for stronger verbs?

5 Comments on Verb Collection, last added: 9/4/2013
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16180. Back to School with Sound Literature

Sound Literature_crop

Practical tips for librarians & teachers integrating audiobooks in their collection. The June issue of American Libraries included an excerpt from my book Audiobooks for Youth , which I thought I’d share with you. Here’s the complete Sound Literature article, with lots of ideas for any audio collection, not just children’s or Young Adult titles.

And for great ideas for including audiobooks in the classroom curriculum, be sure to check out Voices in My Head: Audiobooks and the Common Core, featuring recommendations from Sharon Grover & Lizette Hannigan, authors of Listening to Learn: Audiobooks Supporting Literacy – an essential title for educators. 

Looking for educational rationale & research to support building an audiobook collection? Check out the Slide Share links below. You’ll find PowerPoint presentations, plus printable resources if you click the “More” tab on the right of the slide show.

Beyond the Printed Word, a presentation at the International Reading Association 2012 Conference – by Mary Burkey – Teacher-Librarian, Olentangy Local Schools, Michele Cobb: President – Audio Publishers Association, Francisca Goldsmith – Infopeople Project, Sharon Grover – Head of Youth Services, Hedberg Public Library (Janesville WI), and  Liz Hannegan, retired library media specialist from the Arlington (Virginia) Public Schools.

Evaluating Audiobooks: Selecting the Best for Children and Teens, a presentation at the 2009 American Library Association Annual Conference – by the members of the 2008 Odyssey Award committee.

I’ll be heading to  my school library next Monday, looking forward to my nice long commute. More time for listening to great new audiobooks! For those of you starting back to school –  best wishes for a great year. For those of you who have just wrapped up Summer Reading Club – take a well-deserved break! And for those gearing up for the school schedule family taxi service – don’t forget to stock up on plenty of great family listening ;-)

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16181. What's Up Wednesday and IWSG

Hosted by 
Jaime Morrow and
Erin Funk
What I'm Reading

I'm reading several things, but my top three reads are ANDI UNEXPECTED, TOONS: LIVING IN LOONEYVILLE, and BELIEVE.

What I'm Writing

Hosted by
 and Elodie

Last Wednesday my goal was to do the last round of edits for my edgy YA and complete five chapters of a new project, a horror MG, to have a total of twenty chapters. I finished the horror MG draft and took some of it to my crit group, but my intense focus on that draft didn't give me time to edit the edgy YA. 

What I want to accomplish by next Wednesday is do my last round of edits for my edgy YA (for real this time), carefully read beta reader notes that I just received for a historical MG so I can gather my thoughts on revisions, and also outline a new idea that won't leave me alone. 

What Else I've Been Up To

I've been bookmarking free movies on Amazon Prime and Youtube, but haven't had time to watch them. I was able to watch 50/50, further making the DVR list smaller, and it's a great movie. Seth Rogen is everywhere.

What Inspires Me Right Now

I created a collage of New York City pictures in my office space since my shiny new idea takes place there. I also bought some scented candles, since the plant related to the scent figures heavily into the setting and is also part of the title. 


First Wednesday
of every month.
Last time I asked that people wish my luck because I was writing a horror MG when I never wrote horror before. Now I know I can write it. It's not 100% terrifying though, because I have my CP's in stitches with the humorous characters and dialogue. 

I believe Ready. Set. Write! is almost over since it started in early June and was two months long. I really pushed myself this summer and got a lot done, although I really wanted to fast draft my shiny new idea. That can be done in the fall. 

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CLICK TO EMBIGGEN BAM.There's your new super-heroine, coming September 2013, courtesy of Tu Books. Here's the jacket copy:This is not a once upon a time story. Years ago, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen and her family lived in a world of... Read the rest of this post

2 Comments on COVER REVEAL: KILLER OF ENEMIES, last added: 9/6/2013
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16183. X Marks the Spot (Part 1)

Here I am in preachy/teachy mode again. 

Today's topic?


Studying scriptwriting is an invaluable tool for any writer, but particularly for children’s novelists. 

Children's novels are similar to scripts.
  1. They are relatively short.
  2. They need to reveal the story as early as possible.
  3. They need to be tight and active.
  4. They must be well-paced.
In scripts, structure is critical and clearly defined (setup, development, climax, resolution). 

We talked about setup HERE, HERE and HERE.
But now let’s narrow our focus even more. 

One of the most critical parts of the setup of a story is the catalyst

The catalyst has two important roles:
1. It starts the action of the story.
2. It defines what the story is about. 

The strongest catalyst - and the most common in children’s books - is a specific action (sometimes referred to as the inciting incident. No, that will not be on the test. Relax). 

Something happens to set the story in motion.

The catalyst should come as early in the story as possible. 

Repeat after me:

The catalyst should come as early in the story as possible.


Because young readers want to get into the action as soon as possible. 

In most cases, the reader (and you, the writer) should be able to point at a specific spot on the page and say, “There! That’s where the story starts.” 

X marks the spot!

Some of the best children’s books literally start with the catalyst. They jump right into the action.

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo: 

My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white

rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog. 

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt: 

Nothing ever happens in Antler, Texas. Nothing much at all. Until this afternoon, when an old blue Thunderbird pulls a trailer decorated with Christmas lights into the Dairy Maid parking lot. The red words painted on the trailer cause quite a buzz around town, and before an hour is up, half of Antler is standing in line with two dollars clutched in hand to see the fattest boy in the world. 

The Goats by Brock Cole (one of my faves, btw): 

When he came back to the beach with wood for a
fire Bryce grabbed him from behind. The firewood scattered, bouncing off his knees and shins.

“Okay, Bryce,” he said. “Cut it out.” He tried to sound unafraid, even a little bored.

Bryce pulled his elbows back until they were almost touching. The boy tried to look up at the other kids. They turned their faces away, squinting out over the lake or frowning up into the trees above the beach. 

“Hey,” Bryce said. “Do I have to do everything?”
For a moment no one moved, and then Murphy shrugged and knelt down heavily in font of the boy. He was frowning, as if he had to do something disagreeable.

“Don’t,” said the boy.

Murphy pulled down his shorts. The boy’s knees folded, and as he fell Bryce tugged his sweat shirt over his head. It was a new shirt. It had the camp emblem of the Tall Pine on the front. Someone sat on his knees so they could pull off his shoes and socks. Then they let him go. He scuttled sideways on his hands and knees into a thicket of reeds and fell on his side. He could hardly breathe.

“Come on, Howie,” Murphy said. “You’re a goat. Don’t you get it?” 

The boy curled up tightly, squeezing his eyes shut, waiting for the world to explode. 

“I don’t think he gets it,” Murphy said. 

The boy didn't move. He heard the canoes being shoved back into the water. There was a clatter of paddles and a loud splash. Someone laughed. 

There is no question what this story is about: a boy has been stripped naked and left on an island by his fellow campers. 

Notice that the above catalysts are specific actions - a girl brings home a stray dog; a trailer with a fat boy arrives in town; a boy is left naked on an island. 

The catalyst might also be informational.

But I see that some of you in the back of the room are dozing, so I'll save this part of the discussion for later.

Wake up.

Class dismissed.

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16184. I have a cover!!!

So, my new book, Seven Stories Up, will be out in January.  (feel free to add it to your Goodreads!)

It’s always scary, waiting to see the cover of a new book.  Sometimes the book looks EXACTLY like you thought it would look.  And sometimes it looks NOTHING like you thought it would look.

In this case, the book doesn’t look like I expected it to at all.  I’d pictured a mysterious lamplit hotel, seen from the street, with one ominous window lit up, only one.  Because this book is a companion to Bigger than a Bread Box, which had a mysterious feel to it.

But now… looking at this wonderful cover by Tim Jessell, I’m struck my how right it is.  ANd by much it looks like a lot of the classic books of my youth. It reminds me of The Secret Language, or The Little Princess.

There’s a tradition of books like this– books where two kids bond and grow, in a little world all their own.  Books about two girls who only need each other.  I loved those books.  Those books were timeless.

This is a book like that, I hope. Although it’s related to Bread Box, it’s a very different book.  And the cover captures that.

Don’t you think?


2 Comments on I have a cover!!!, last added: 9/5/2013
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16185. a pile of stuff #34

A seed library, in Ohio. (No returns, obviously.) Via the Melville House blog.

Also from Melville House, here is a fine slide show of some old New York bookshops. The first Scribner's was astonishing, was it not?

This compelling eulogy by Joanna Murray-Smith for her mother Nita was published on the Overland website in early July.

At Cordite, Geoff Page reviews Chris Wallace-Crabbe's New and Selected Poems.

Expanding the canon after death doesn't just happen in writing. Scholars and performers have revived some sonatas Beethoven wrote when he was 12, and 20, and added them to the 'iconic' 32. What this achieves, I do not like to guess. 

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16186. Writing in the Dog Days of Summer

by Deren Hansen

The Dog Days of summer go back to the Romans and the Greeks, who associated the sultry weather with the star Sirius (the "Dog Star").

"[The] Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time [when] "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid..." [See Wikipedia]

When I was involved with an international business, our European partners became scarce during August. Our overachieving Americans, steeped in their Puritan work ethic, groused about our poor continental counterparts forced to languish as they took state–mandated vacations.

It has long been the habit of commercial publishers, particularly those in New York City, to emulate the good folk across the Atlantic pond. There's something of a collective pause in the industry during August both because it's a good time to escape the sweltering city and because there's business that can be better handled when everyone's back on the job in September.

The standard advice for writers (which is generally given by editors and agents taking August vacations) is to focus on writing during the quiet time (i.e., the time when their emails and calls to agents and editors will likely go unanswered).

But isn't what's good for the goose also good for the gander?

I'm not saying you should abandon a project if you're in the middle of something and the heat of the fires of your inspiration is driving your thermometer to new altitudes.

Still, your muses might have more to sing about if you give them a cooler place to dance. And you'll definitely need to refill your well if you're running your creative swamp cooler at full blast.

So, what do you like to do to keep the dog days from eating your writing homework?

Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.

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16187. will you please be quiet...

Now if I wanted to attend Texts In The City at the Wheeler Centre, as a Books 101 kind of thing, I guess I would. And usually I don't want to.
But even without viewing them, and given that these sessions would be pitched to Year 12 students, I still think it's timely to recommend Alison Croggon talking about Wuthering Heights, and Josephine Rowe discussing Ray Carver's stories.


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16188. My tweets

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16189. August 7 Birthday: Ralph Bunche

Ralph Bunche, peacemaker
Aug. 7, 1904-Dec. 9, 1971

Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben (Dutton, 2006)

Sixteen profiles of world peacemakers include a double-page spread of American diplomat Bunche. Stunning collages accompany each biography. Bunche was the first person of color to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

To learn more about Dr. Ralph Bunche, visit the PBS site Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey.

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16190. "the lights begin to twinkle from the rocks..."

"To those claiming "Twitter" (singular mass) is "this" or "that" (insert blanket generalisation), some perspective." (Simon Sellars @ballardian on Twitter.)

Tweetping offers visualisation of global Twitter usage in real time.

Make sure you have a look next time you're awake in the dead of the night. The world is twittering away while we (do not) sleep.   

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16191. Austenland...starring Jennifer Coolidge and James Callis

Starring as the Austen novice, recently divorced and British-ism spouting tourist Miss Charming is Jennifer Coolidge.  If you love Jennifer Coolidge (and of course you do) you will die when you see her as Miss Charming. She's  best known for Legally Blonde, American Pie, A Cinderella Story, and CBS's Two Broke Girls, as well as several Christopher Guest movies. Years ago after seeing Jennifer Coolidge in Best in Show, I began writing Miss Charming's character with her in mind, the only time I've cast a character in my mind while writing. Can you imagine how excited I was when she accepted the part?

James Callis is Austenland's exquisite Colonel Andrews. He is best known as Bridget's best friend in the Bridget Jones's Diary movies and as Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica. He's a brilliant actor and so, so funny. This clip is from an episode of Portlandia. Two people are obsessed with Battlestar Galactica and get the real James Callis and Edward James Olmos to come do a table read of a script they wrote.

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MY BROKEN PEN is my latest poem and the 300th piece in 8yrs of writing poems. Share if you like.


I pity my pen
What did happen?
The pen is broken
I had it sharpened
For last night's drawing,
That broke my pen

My broken pen
Can no~longer draw
It's weak
It's frail
It's broken
Its fragility proved
By the drawing so couth
Weakened, in last night's drawing

Last night
I put my pen to work
It was full of spark
It drew every detail
Shaded with pace
All~over the place
Making contrasting shades
That will never fade
Thou' bonded with fate
But without any hate
To give the blonde a shape
So coveted by m'apes

Last night's drawing was big
Made my pen have a jig
Shading the candy ring
Around the natural wig

The drawing broke my pen
I am bloke to buy a pen
I will slaughter my hen
To sharpen my pen
The soup from the hen
Will sharpen the pen

Only then can I draw again
On my own canvas tonight
For the big drawing that broke my pen
Was on a stolen canvas
That ruptured my pen
With unconcealed zeal.

Poet & Blogger

This is an unpublished, original works and the auther holds all the copyright.

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16193. New Vermeer Publication

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (Rijksmuseum publication)
by Gregor J.M. Weber
64 pages full-colour, paperback, 18×11 cm
Dutch and English

Don’t have any information but the Rijksmuseum has published (in Dutch and English) a 64-page full color booklet by Gregor Weber on Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. Should be very interesting.

click here to order.

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16194. London Part One

We took it very easy yesterday and spent most of it in and around Kensington Gardens.  We walked along Kensington Place Gardens trying to figure out the flags of the different embassies.  We then entered the park and looked for the Orangery. (Years ago Roxanne and I had a lovely tea there and, since Tyner was eager to have a traditional tea, I suggested we go there.) Took a bit of time to find it as we kept being distracted by signs for the Princess Diana Memorial Walk and wondering what it was. (Now I see it is a series of walks through different parks.)  We finally found the Orangery and had an absolutely lovely tea. I had my first Pimm’s cup.  We then wandered the Gardens — enjoying especially the baby ducks at the Italian Gardens.  (We also have a rather macabre story involving a worried mother duck and a baby duck or bird falling out of a tree.) And of course we visited Peter. In years past I’d often stayed nearby and have found memories of morning runs in that area.  A lovely and relaxing day.


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16195. Prolific

Not everyone’s prolific;
Being so might be a curse.
To some, it’s quite terrific
But to others, the reverse.

For those who mass produce their wares
Perhaps are just obsessed;
And holding back a bit impairs
Their mojo, so they’re stressed.

A poet or a painter
Churning endless words or scenes
May find talent growing fainter,
‘Til incentive intervenes.

But the converse may transpire,
For the adage clearly states
Practice often takes us higher
Than a blue moon generates.

So to those who are prolific
(I’m included in that bunch),
I conclude (not scientific)
We should all be pleased as punch!

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16196. Telling the Other Side of the Story: Switching Point of View


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Question: How do you tell a story and make sure that both sides get heard?

Answer: This is a time when switching point-of-view might be helpful.

The default for telling a story is 3rd-person point-of-view. You tell it like you are recording from a camera that sits right above the point-of-view (POV) character’s head. Usually the POV character is the main character, but it can be a friend or some other character. The key is the pronouns: you use he, she, they, them.

If the camera is above the character’s head, you can’t tell what the character is thinking. That’s 1st person POV, which uses I, me and my pronouns. There is a close 3rd person POV which lets you imply the character’s thoughts.

1st: I sift through photos until–I stop and hold up THE photo. It shows me, sitting on my Dad’s lap. I was just five and it was the day before he disappeared.

3rd: She shifted the photos, one by one. Then she held one up and shifted to let the light fall on it better. Yes, it was Dad and she was sitting on his lap. She remembered that day because it was the day before her Dad disappeared.

Which do you like better? It’s a personal thing in some respects and also a question of which one serves your story better.

But back to the question: How do you make sure both sides get heard? Usually, you’ll create a story with two POV characters, one the hero(ine) and one the villain(ess). POV switches typically happen at chapter breaks, that is you’ll have one chapter from the Hero(ine)’s POV, then a chapter from the Villain(ess)’s POV. You can alternate as needed and you don’t have to make it evenly split between the two POV.

The advantage of this is that you can explain the deep issues that each character has from their POV. The difficulty of this is creating two characters that the audience will truly care about and will root for. You want the audience to like the characters. Is your villain a likeable sort? Or at least a sympathetic sort?

Also, consider what the audience will know if you use this strategy. The reader will be in on every nuance of the villain’s plans. How will you create surprise? You can build suspense, which is slightly different. For suspense, the reader knows something will happen and hopes against hope that the character will avoid the problem. That sort of thing will work with an alternating chapter strategy.

Sometimes, the POV switch will take place within a chapter, but usually, the sections are set off somehow, maybe an extra space or asterisks or other visual cues that something has changed.

What rarely works is changing within a paragraph.

In the end, how do you know if alternating chapters will work? You try it out.

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16197. Your Happiness Shouldn’t Come with Conditions

Filed under: random stuff

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16198. The Big Lie: Encouraging your Readers to Suspend Disbelief

As many of you may know, Angela and I are eyebrow-deep in edits for our Traits Thesaurus. With a lot of luck and Mountain Dew, they should be available within the next few months. 

*exhausted squeak*

In the meantime, Laura Pauling has pushed through the publishing craziness and is releasing her newest book next week. I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of HEIST while I was on vacation, and, as you can see from my Goodreads review, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it.

Laura is kind of...well, let's be honest. She's obsessed with spies. So I was thrilled when she offered to write at The Bookshelf Muse about The Big Lie...


Suspension of disbelief is the ability to accept the core premise of a story as truth. It usually refers to an unbelievable element such as magic, time travel, or entering a magical land through a wardrobe. Suspending belief is both easy and hard to do.

I love entering a movie or a book with a premise I’m excited about. I’ve made it real easy for the writer because I’ve already suspended my belief. But it’s up to them to keep it suspended. Every plot point, every complication, every twist, they need to prove it again.

Honestly, I think this is just as hard to do with contemporary realistic fiction as it is to do with a time travel thriller. In fact, it may be harder, but that’s another post.

Some quick and easy tips for creating The Big Lie in fiction:
  • Don’t break the world building rules you’ve already established.
  • The action/reaction of your characters in the world and to the world need to make sense within the context of the story.
  • Bring small world building details into the story wherever you can as long as they pertain to the scene. Don’t just drop them in randomly or over do it.
  • Make sure your character's emotional arc and actions are logical because if the reader doesn’t whole-heartedly believe in your character then they are less likely to believe in your premise.
  • For me the most important way to lend believability…is the writing. Good writing gets me every time and that just takes time and hard work.
  • Don’t make your readers mad by not truly answering the story questions/mysteries you’ve presented. Don’t give them the run-around. 

One TV show where I think the writers may have pushed it too far was LOST. They got so fantastical with some of the events that it was just about impossible for them to present a logical explanation that viewers could believe. Then they made some viewers mad by getting a little cheesy with the fountain of youth explanation. This turned many people off.

Me? I loved the whole show and never wavered. I was so invested in the characters that I overlooked everything. There’s definitely a lesson to be learned there.

HEIST is a time travel thriller. Think The Butterfly Effect as a YA novel. I ask the reader to believe in time travel. That’s my big lie. Each time Jack Brodie travels back to the Gardner Museum Heist to fix his mistakes and his world in the future changes for the worse, I have to convince my readers to believe the lie again. (And I hope they do!) 

In what books or movies did you believe The Big Lie? I'd love to hear your examples.

Laura Pauling writes about spies, murder and mystery. She's also the author of the Circle of Spies Series: A Spy Like Me, Heart of an Assassin and the forthcoming Twist of Fate. She writes to entertain and experience a great story...and be able to work in her jammies and slippers. Her book HEIST releases August 15th. Check it out on Goodreads.

19 Comments on The Big Lie: Encouraging your Readers to Suspend Disbelief, last added: 9/6/2013
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16199. a working studio

Even though the studio is not completely set up (note the empty book tower in the back), work cannot wait for my perfectionist aspirations. Work has begun on the third Ling and Ting book (right now titled "Twice as Silly!") and, just like when I was working on the last book, my "assistant" is ever devoted:

her rabbit might make a cameo in the book

But I'm excited! I think it's going to be a fun follow up to Ling and Ting Share a Birthday (which comes out in September!!).

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16200. Writing for Children – Finding Age Appropriate Words

Writing in general can be a tough business; writing for children is even tougher. Writing for children has its own unique tricks, processes, and rules; one of those rules is using words that are age appropriate. How this differs from writing in general is that the children’s writing arena is divided into specific age groups. There are picture books and rebus stories for the very young

2 Comments on Writing for Children – Finding Age Appropriate Words, last added: 9/5/2013
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