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Results 16,176 - 16,200 of 205,865
16176. The Lucy Maud Montgomery Journals Read Along: Volume I Discussion

An Overview:

This first volume of Maud’s journals covers her life from ages fourteen through thirty-five. She starts as a school girl (not above school yard spats and secret indulgences in novels during lesson time); studies at Prince of Wales College and Dalhousie University; teaches three years in different communities in Prince Edward Island, works one year as a copyeditor at a Nova Scotia newspaper; experiences six* proposals, two engagements, and one secret love affair; and spends more than a decade as her grandmother’s companion and caretaker, all the while reading, writing, and dreaming of the literary life.

There are countless directions I could take this post, but for the sake of true discussion, I wanted to comment on a few things that struck me and raise questions to those of you who have also read. You’ll see I’ve had so much to say I’ve decided to run a second discussion post on Wednesday and a more quotes I found interesting on Friday. I invite readers to take us anywhere you’d like in the comments below.
The Literary Life:
All my life is has been my aim to write a book -- a “real live” book... Well, I’ve written my book. The dream dreamed years ago in that old brown desk in school has come true at last after years of toil and struggle. And the realization is sweet -- almost as sweet as the dream!

Maud’s first novel, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, sold to L.C. Page and Co., the fifth publishing house she submitted to. While on the surface, this looks like an easy thing, she had been tirelessly writing, submitting, and selling short stories and poems for over fifteen years. Writing had become a daily part of her life, as had a faithful study of the magazine market. 

Blessings be on the inventors of the alphabet, pen and printing press! Life would be -- to me in all events -- a terrible thing without books.

As well as writing, Maud read broadly and deeply. She often re-read childhood favorites, studying to see if they held up as the years passed but also refusing to let popular opinion sway her preferences. She compared author’s newer works to their older titles, pursued the bestsellers and the classics, and collected phrases that spoke to her (reminding me of my commonplace book).

After selling ANNE in 1907, she quickly went on to sell the sequel, ANNE OF AVONLEA,  KILMENY OF THE ORCHARD (a story re-worked story that had previously run as a magazine serial), and THE STORY GIRL (her personal favorite).

The road of literature is at first a very slow one...and I mean to work patiently on until I win -- as I believe I shall, sooner or later -- recognition and success.

Wednesday's discussion will focus on the two lives Maud often felt she lived and the process of recording a life through journaling. 

*Have I forgotten someone or accidentally added someone else in? Mr. Mustard, Lem, Lou, Edwin, Ewan, Oliver.

6 Comments on The Lucy Maud Montgomery Journals Read Along: Volume I Discussion, last added: 2/25/2013
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16177. Food for a book launch

With my book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie coming out in July, I started thinking about what kind of snacks and food to have at a book launch. Well, launches. I hope to have several at different locations in Illinois and Wisconsin.

A natural seemed to be the brain cupcakes and.... well, how about some zombie cakes? I found an, er,     gruesome  "delightful" selection of possible cakes.... see links at GirlZombieAuthors (Warning! Some are nightmare worthy!)

I like the cupcake idea... have to find the brain mold, (I wonder if Hobby Lobby has one? have to check... Found one at Amazon, probably cost more to ship it. ha!) but here's the recipe.

*** So-- what have you served or what would you serve at your book launch party? What worked - what didn't?

3 Comments on Food for a book launch, last added: 2/25/2013
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16178. Cover Reveal: Astarte’s Wrath by Trisha Wolfe


Book summary:

Set against the backdrop of the Battle of Actium, in the city of Alexandria, Star struggles with her guardian duties as her feelings for the newly named pharaoh of Egypt grow deeper. Not only is Caesarian her duty, he’s the son of Cleopatra, and he’s human. All of which makes their love forbidden.

But when a conspiracy linked to Caesar creeps its way into Alexandria, Star must choose between helping her fellow Kythan free themselves of their servitude, and protecting her charge—the last pharaoh—while Egypt burns around her.

YA-Mature: sexual content, drinking, drugs, violence, death, and other mature content intended for readers 17 and older.


Cover design: Stephanie Mooney

Publication: March

Author website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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16179. A Little Faith

I found this saying on Facebook last week, and I felt I needed to share it. Now I can't speak for everyone, and as you know I never do. I only speak for myself, but I find when life gets a little rough around the edges I turn to my faith. You see, we are not supposed to know why things happen in life. We are not supposed to know why things happen the way they do.What we are supposed to know is that there is always a plan. It might not be our plan, but it is a plan non the less.

Sometimes, we fight the plan laid out before us, and that is when the road gets harder to travel. Sometimes that is good. It challenges us, makes us prove we really want what we are fighting for. Other times no matter how long and hard we fight nothing changes. I've decided those are the times when you have to say, "Okay, it's just not my time yet, but my time will come."

Have faith, keep fighting and remember, you're time will come. Maybe not the way you planned. Maybe not in your time frame; but there is a reason for that. Once we get  through that rough patch, hopefully we can see why things turned out the way they did. So have faith, and know we never go through those rough patches alone.

1 Comments on A Little Faith, last added: 2/25/2013
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16180. Pitch+250 - Blackrock

Name: Kendal Muse
Title: Blackrock
Genre: YA Magical Realism


Marley Pace has resigned herself to life in Blackrock. It’ll mean spending her senior year in self-imposed homeschool exile, but she doesn’t mind. After the way her summer ended, she figures she deserves it.

All she wants is to prove she can stay out of trouble. Living in a sleepy Florida beach town should make that easy, but then she discovers the Preserve, an eroded stretch of beach hidden behind dense woods and a chain-link fence. She barely steps inside before the Sinclairs, Blackrock’s most troubled family, warn her to stay away.

Normally, an order that direct would only pique her interest, but this time she couldn’t agree more. Besides hating the ocean, there’s something about that place, a feeling that crawls up her arms and legs, and she has no intention of going back—until she finds the box hidden in her attic.

Her own past is tied to the Preserve in ways she never could’ve imagined, and Marley wants answers. If she can’t get them from her mother, she’ll get them from the Preserve, even if it means getting caught between the Sinclair version of a rock and a hard place.

Paul, the oldest and a notorious hothead, wants her to stay away from the Preserve and his family, or else. But his sister doesn’t seem to agree. Samantha is the Sinclair everyone whispers about, the subject of all the worst family rumors, and what she wants, more than anything, is Marley’s help.

1st 250:
The first time I saw Samantha Sinclair, I was using the pay phone at the Blackrock Corner Market. I shouldn’t have known who she was—we’d only been in town a few weeks—but the way people were watching her, it was obvious.

I was standing in the back getting my usual stares and whispers, the same ones I got any time I dared use their relic of a pay phone, though by now I was used to it. What I wasn’t used to was the way every gaze shifted when she walked in.

My cousin had been telling me stories about the Sinclairs for years. They were supposed to be a three-piece-set, rarely seen out of each other’s company, but today her brother and sister weren’t with her. Alone, she looked like any other surfer on their way home. There was a window next to the pay phone, and I’d watched her park out front, a surfboard fastened to the top of her little blue Nissan. She could’ve been anyone, but she wasn’t.

People had a way of staring at you when they’d spent time talking about you behind your back, and it was no different with Samantha. I knew that look because I’d gotten it plenty myself, but there was a little something extra in hers. Apparently, the stares were worse when people also thought you might be crazy.

I hung up before Calvin’s machine could answer; these days I had it down to a science.

1 Comments on Pitch+250 - Blackrock, last added: 2/25/2013
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16181. Pitch+250 - The Only One

Name: Keely Dunn
Title: The Only One
Genre: YA Contemporary


When 15 year-old Shae Mackenna loses her mother to cancer, she also loses her school, her friends and her ice hockey team in just one summer. Forced to move away and live with her father in a small town, she must either fight for a spot on an all-boys' team or give up on the game she loves. Can Shae convince the doubters that she really belongs on the ice?

1st 250:
Shae Mackenna inhaled deeply as she walked down the cinder-block hallway, skate blades cushioned by the rubber carpeting underfoot. The stench of rancid hockey equipment almost overwhelmed the tang of frozen brinewater. She was home.

She let out her breath as she arrived at the players’ bench, stepping towards the closed gate blocking her from the ice. Shae waited to make eye contact with any of the men out on the ice. After she rapped her stick over the boards, one finally looked her way.

“Hey,” she called out through her helmet cage. “Can I play?”

The nearest players glided to a stop in front of her, open-mouthed, red-faced and puffing. They looked at each other, each waiting for the other guy to answer her question.

“I said: Can I play?” Shae asked again, drawing out each word enough to be clear but not so slowly as to insult them. She puffed out her chest a bit, looking several of the guys straight in the eye. It was a minor detail that ice level was a few inches lower than the bench area; right now, she needed every inch she could get.

“Look, no offence, sweetheart…” started one of the chubbier, shorter players. Shae had to stop from rolling her eyes. Calling her sweetheart was only something her dad could get away with. It wasn’t cool from a total stranger, especially some out-of-shape plug.

“What’s the big deal?” she asked, keeping her tone casual. “Give me five minutes. If I can’t hack it, I’ll leave.”

1 Comments on Pitch+250 - The Only One, last added: 2/25/2013
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16182. Pitch+250 - The Snake and the Darkness

Name: Mari Clark
Genre: Young Adult (Action/Adventure)

250 Pitch:

Artistic, seventeen-year-old Liliana Perez would rather paint the jungle than explore it.

Still, she is willing to trek deep into the cloudforest of Peru—facing rain, hail, sleet, monsoon-like winds, superstitious campesinos, haunted mountain passes, vampire bats (the real kind) and vipers—to find her father and convince him to return to civilization. After all, since her father is responsible for cyberattacks causing blackouts and power grid failures, he is half the reason her world has gone dark. The other half: Francisco, the love-of-her-life fellow adventurer, is contemplating a future without her—as a Catholic priest.

Along with Francisco’s military-schooled brother, Lili’s difficult cousin, and a trio of strangers, Lili and Francisco reach her father’s jungle hideout to discover Lili’s father, a petroleum engineer, excavating a natural resource from the ground—and it’s not oil. Even worse, her father participates in ancient shamanistic rituals that blur the line between fantasy and reality and he blames a global conspiracy for the blackouts. Most important of all, the unexpected resource he unearths will bring unwelcome physical and spiritual consequences for Lili, Francisco, the other young explorers, and possibly the world.

Before it’s too late, Lili and Francisco must confront the darkness that has gripped her father in order to have a future filled with light.

1st 250:
Amazonas, Peru

For what seems like the millionth time this morning, the gears grind, the bus tilts, I jam my knees into the seatback in front of me to brace myself, and the kid across the aisle squeaks how incredible it is—“¡Qué incredible!”—to roller-coaster around another curve.

Incredible? More like un-freaking-believable.

Earlier, the little boy overheard me telling his Ashaninkan mother that I thought the view was incredible. She asked my opinion about this carnival ride of a bus trip, and I wanted to say something nice. Problem is the kid keeps repeating it: incredible. His new favorite word.

Bug-bitten and exhausted, I take out my cellphone and scroll down to read my cousin Martin’s email: Let’s hope morons in government haven’t closed airport again. If so no prob to take bus.


Lili, u speak Spanish. Will fit right in.


No worries traveling alone. Trust me, Lili. Lots of backpacker types wandering around Peru. Try to look like tour-or-ist and u will be fine.

Yeah, Martin, sure. Lots of backpacker types. But not like me. Hey, that’s great. You guys are going to the Sacred Valley to see Inca ruins. Me? I’m going to an isolated jungle in northern Peru to search for my missing father who may have done something really bad. Uh, did I mention that criminals like to hide out in this jungle?

And Martin’s joke comparing tourists to terrorists is getting a little old.

The rugrat across the aisles squeals again. He’s watching me. Because his big brown eyes remind me of Francisco, I smile and blow un besito at him.

2 Comments on Pitch+250 - The Snake and the Darkness, last added: 2/25/2013
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16183. A winner... and a mystery!

First, I need to announce the winner of the prize package of a paperback of Hattie Big Sky and an arc of Hattie Ever After!  According to random.org, the winner is:

(aka Janet)

Congratulations, Janet! Expect an email from me, asking for your mailing address.

Now to today's MMGMM. Yes, there's an extra M in there, for mystery.

I've been writing a middle grade mystery, so I thought it wise to read more mysteries over the past few months. And I really liked this one:

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd (Yearling/Random House paperback published 2009, for ages 8 to 12).

paperback purchased from local bookstore

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim board the London Eye, but after half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off—except Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air? Ted and his older sister, Kat, become sleuthing partners, since the police are having no luck. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery. 

Why I liked it: Oh, without a doubt the character of Ted! He wants to be a meteorologist when he grows up, so he's obsessed with weather forecasts. His autism is never defined, but he nonetheless works out puzzles in his head, counts his breakfast cereal Shreddies as he eats them, and doesn't like to be hugged. Dowd, who sadly died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 47, makes Ted both likable and memorable. Ted tells the story in first person and London comes to life through his eyes. The mystery kept me guessing, and I also liked the way Ted and his sister grow closer together while they try to figure out what happened to Salim.

What middle grade mysteries have you read lately?

For more MMGM posts, see Shannon Messenger's links or my sidebar.

20 Comments on A winner... and a mystery!, last added: 2/28/2013
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16184. Pitch+250 - Meditation

Name: Larissa Hardesty
Genre: YA Thriller


Seventeen-year-old Bree Miller never expected her passion for yoga would save her life. But when she's kidnapped by a man in a mask who talks about obedience and punishment, her training is the only thing keeping her sane.

When Brian Sander's girlfriend Bree goes missing, he refuses to believe what the police are saying about her being a runaway. He knows she's in trouble, and decides to take things into his own hands, forming his own search group. He'll stop at nothing to find her.

As the stress and frustration of Bree’s disappearance push Brian to his limit, Bree fights her own battle against a madman who wants all of her—even if by force.

Alternating between Bree's and Brian's point of view, MEDITATION is a 45,000 word YA Thriller.

1st 250:
The chill in the air and the fog graying out the world make me wish I’d grabbed a jacket, but I don’t want to go back inside to get one. Not while Mom is in there wanting to talk about my feelings. As if she really cares.

Thinking warm thoughts, I step onto the sidewalk and glance around the neighborhood. It’s quiet on my street this early. I close my eyes and take in the stillness, listening to the soft sounds of morning. A sound that doesn’t fit breaks the peace, and I open my eyes. A Buick with blacked-out windows is parked two houses down. It’s so beat up and faded, I can’t even tell what color it is. Black? Gray? Dark blue? Regardless, it’s out of place here. I know it doesn’t belong to any of the neighbors.

A ribbon of steam trickles from the rear, and I wonder who is inside. Are they watching me?

Without warning, the car pulls forward, heading down the street. Thankfully in the opposite direction I am going.

Way to let your imagination run away with you, Bree. I release the breath I didn’t know I was holding, and try to shake off the lingering sense of unease. The heavy air presses on me as I walk, and I take deep, cleansing breaths. They help, and the peace of my familiar yoga practice falls over me. The sense of calm carries me most of the way to school.

1 Comments on Pitch+250 - Meditation, last added: 2/25/2013
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16185. Booking Across the USA: Maryland


Today is "Booking Across the USA" at Growing Book by Book, and I'm representing Maryland! Bloggers representing all 50 states are sharing picture books related to their states and sharing educational activities or projects to go along with the books. You can see the whole list of participating blogs here.

When I first volunteered to represent Maryland, I wasn't sure which picture book to highlight. Should I pick a book that features the whole state? Share a historical story from a specific region? Or choose a book written by a Maryland author? After many hours of thinking and reading, I decided to highlight a book by a Maryland artist!

One Wolf Howls, written by Scotti Cohn and illustrated by Maryland's own Susan Detwiler, was published by Sylvan Dell in 2011. Written in beautiful rhyme, One Wolf Howls goes through each month of the year (one month on each full-page spread) to help reinforce numbers and months of the year and to introduce the habitat and behavior of wolves. Here are two of my favorite spreads, which both include movement or dance...

Two wolves play in a February snowfall --
frisky, frosty, fairyland snow.
Two wolves play in a February snowfall
deep in the woods where the harsh winds blow.

Eight wolves dance in the August twilight --
splash feet, paddle feet, prance by the lake.
Eight wolves dance in the August twilight
deep in the woods as the owls awake. 

One Wolf Howls, like all Sylvan Dell Books, includes a "For Creative Minds" section at the back of the book, where you will find several pages of educational activities. Sylvan Dell has also put a lot of effort into creating additional "teaching activities"for One Wolf Howls that coincide with the language arts, science, math, and geography. You can access the full list of teaching activities from the top right of this wonderful page on the Sylvan Dell website, which also includes a fun and informative book trailer.

If you like to incorporate movement into the classroom or you teach creative dance or pre-ballet classes, this book would also be well suited for teaching choreography and practicing movements in unison. One idea is to make up short movement phrases to go with each of the 12 stanzas in the book. An example for the "Eight wolves dance in the August twilight" stanza would be to have the kids splash their feet, paddle their arms, or prance. The students could practice repeating the movements twice during each stanza.

I think it would then be really fun to create a dance in which one student performs the first stanza, which talks about only one wolf. Then another dancer could join the first dancer for the second stanza, which talks about two wolves, and on and on until 12 students are dancing together. The kids could even dance to the rhythm of the poetry rather than to traditional music.

If you have a small group of students, they could just dance part of the book. And if you have a large class, you could split the kids into two groups, and one group could be the audience. Hopefully the dancers would make the audience howl!

Susan Detwiler grew up in Maryland and attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. Susan has illustrated several books for children, including four for Sylvan Dell. Her illustrations have also been published in children's magazines and in puzzles, games, and greeting cards. Visit her website here.

4 Comments on Booking Across the USA: Maryland, last added: 2/28/2013
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16186. Pitch+250 - Gripped

Name: Laurie Litwin
Genre: YA Contemporary


Seventeen-year old Taylor is supposed to be the homecoming queen, not the girl who shows up drunk at school and barfs on the vice principal. She’s spent three years climbing the social ladder at her prestigious private high school, snagging the hottie tennis star boyfriend, and landing the head cheerleader spot, all while maintaining a perfect GPA. So what if she needs a few drinks to cope with the pressure of maintaining her Miss Perfect image.

But that was before the hottie dumped her and she walked in on her dad banging a blonde bimbo. Not only is she without Blake, but her family is falling apart. And nothing terrifies Taylor more than being alone and unloved.

Suddenly, a couple of harmless drinks a week become a few dozen. Several benders later, Taylor is showing up at school drunk, tanking exams, getting into drunken fistfights at house parties, and sabotaging the chance at a relationship with the intriguing college guy in her advanced calc class.

One frigid December night, drunk and pissed off after an argument with her arch-frenemy, she gets behind the wheel of a car and slams into a tree – and the truth. She’s doesn’t know how to survive without alcohol and she'd rather die than give it up.

First 250:
There’s no bullshit in math.

Numbers aren’t flawed. They don't lie. There's a solution for every problem. One solution. And there's only one way to get it. Two plus two never equals five.

Also, numbers can be perfect. For example, the number six. And the number twenty-eight. This is what I strive for every day. To be like the number six.

I’ve worked my ass off to get where I am. Everything is falling into place, and just in time for Senior year.

Captain of the Varsity Cheer squad. Check.

Hottie tennis star boyfriend. Check.

All honors and AP. Check.

My parents should be proud. I’ve done everything they’ve asked the last three years. Now maybe they’ll back off. Let me enjoy being a senior without all of the pressure.

I pull into the driveway, glad to have the first week of senior year behind me. The house looks empty, but that’s not a surprise. My parents are never home. The place is like a freaking museum. Cold, quiet, sterile. Everything inside immaculate and perfectly placed.

Grabbing my purse and advanced calculus book off of the passenger seat, I head up the walkway and let myself in the front door, kicking the door closed behind me. Like an itch that needs scratched, a subtle tugging in my gut propels me to the kitchen. Without thinking, I grab my favorite glass from the glass-fronted cabinet. It’s a tasting glass from the Cupcake Winery. It has a pink cupcake etched on it.

2 Comments on Pitch+250 - Gripped, last added: 2/25/2013
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16187. Mayhap

"When you see a man led to prison say in your heart, "Mayhap he is escaping from a narrower prison." And when you see a man drunken say in your heart, "Mayhap he sought escape from something still more unbeautiful.""
Kahlil Gibran, poet and artist (1883-1931)

0 Comments on Mayhap as of 2/25/2013 8:07:00 AM
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16188. Pitch+250 - Liar's Chair

Name: Matthew Stern
Genre: YA Mystery


At Howard Otis Blanchard Academy, the swankiest private school in Seattle, Hammett Frye is the guy that can get you things. Need answers to the test? He’s got ‘em. A grade or two changed? Easy. Some beer for a kick-ass rager? No problem. All for a price, of course. So when geeky Marvin Willow asks Ham for some help keeping a football player the size of a bus off his back, it’s business as usual. Until Marvin is found dead at a party, hanged from a tree.

The police say suicide, and as much as Ham wants to believe it, he can’t. He may not have known Marvin well, but he knows people. Marvin wasn't the kind of guy to do that, and if he didn't kill himself, that means someone else did it. Ham was supposed to be watching out for Marvin, and he just can't let that slide.

Ham starts to look into Marvin's death, annoying pretty much everyone in the process. Marvin's sister Macy, the school principal, the cops. All of them want Ham to drop it. But as he digs deeper, he finds that Marvin pulled the thread of something nasty happening at the school. Something a lot worse than just a little underage drinking or cheating. As Ham keeps digging, and the people against him get bolder in their attempts to get him to stop, it becomes clear that Ham's chances of finishing the semester alive are slimmer than his chances of passing Chemistry.

1st 250:
I did it the way dealers do it. The taste is free. After that, you pay.

Not that I was a dealer. After Peter Kyle OD'd last year, I let everybody know that dealing in school was over. I didn't care about pot. Who the hell did nowadays? It was the hard stuff that would be met with a rain of destruction that would make Vesuvius look like a failed science experiment.

I could get away with statements like that.

Chem class. Last period of the day. Last day of the week. It was one of those days that grabbed you and threatened to drag you outside whether you wanted it or not. Kids sat out on the grounds chilling in what was likely the last nice weather we'd see for the rest of the year. Some were already heading toward the parking lot, escaping early. Those of us who were unlucky enough to have class last period just had to suck it up.

We had about five minutes left until class started. There were ten-minute breaks between classes. It was, according to the school handbook, "To permit students to socialize, network, and engage in lively discussions on a wide range of topics." Mostly, people just talked or tapped away on their phones. Texting, tweeting, or updating statuses. Anything but studying. And the discussion was certainly on a wide range of subjects. From who was banging who, to Hannah Stark's kick-ass rager last weekend.

2 Comments on Pitch+250 - Liar's Chair, last added: 2/25/2013
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16189. Sketch of cat turned into animated gif

Cat's Lunch by James Gurney photo CatsLunch.gif
I missed my old cat, so I turned a sketch of her into an animated gif.

How to share this gif on your blog:
1. Copy the gif to your computer (make sure the file ends ".gif" and not ".jpg")
2. Upload the file to an image hosting site such as Photobucket
3. From the "Image links" dropdown, copy the HTML code.
4. Paste that code into your blog's composing window.

How to create animated gifs from your drawings:
1. Redraw parts of the pose, such as head turns.
2. In Photoshop, isolate parts of the drawing as independent pieces.
3. Create a Photoshop file with each element on a separate layer.
4. By switching on and off visible layers, create frames of animation.
5. Upload frames into online gif-creator such as "imgflip.com" and adjust settings
6. Upload file to Photobucket, etc. as above.

(Video link) Video: "Animated Gifs: The Birth of a Medium" from PBS Off-Book.
Another video: "Short History of the Gif" 
Thanks, Ben Valentine

3 Comments on Sketch of cat turned into animated gif, last added: 2/25/2013
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16190. Pitch+250 - Becoming Jinn

This entry was removed from the contest, because the author recently accepted representation from an agent. Congrats and best wishes, Lori!

Name: Lori A. Goldstein
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy


Wishing doesn’t make it so, Azra does. For the first fifteen years of her life, Azra has happily followed the rules and pretended to be a normal human girl. But the morning of her sixteenth birthday, her dormant powers as a genie are awakened, and the rules change. Azra now serves the Afrit, the powerful rulers of her Jinn world. She’ll go where she’s told, perform on command, and do it all without question. Since defying the Afrit is a one-way ticket to Jinn jail, she’ll follow the rules — sort of.

Bitter about living a life controlled by others, she rebels in the only way she can. She tosses the Jinn handbook aside and wings it. When she sloppily grants a wish for the boy across the street, he not only becomes Azra’s best friend but the only human to know her true identity.

But Azra’s genie mistakes begin to mount, along with the consequences, as she uncovers a secret about the father she’s never met, the source of her curiously strong magic, and why the Afrit have been watching her so closely. If Azra doesn’t embrace her life as a genie, the Afrit will take her away from everyone she loves. And if they find out she outed the Jinn world to a human, her sentence will be jail, but his just might be death. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.

1st 250:A chisel, a hammer, a wrench. A sander, a drill, a power saw. A laser, a heat gun, a flaming torch. Nothing cuts through the bangle. Nothing I conjure even makes a scratch.

I had to try, just to be sure. But the silver bangle encircling my wrist can’t be removed. It was smart of my mother to secure it in the middle of the night while I was asleep, unable to protest.

Though my Jinn ancestry means magic has always been inside me, the rules don’t allow me to begin drawing upon it until the day I turn sixteen. The day I receive my silver bangle. The day I officially become a genie. Today.

I slam my newly acquired accessory against my bedroom closet, leaving a rounded indent on the wood door. The pristine, gleaming metal mocks me. For the rest of my life, I’ll go where I’m told, perform on command, and do it all without question.

Screw that.

Barefooted, I can’t kick the pile of tools without impaling myself. I settle for shoving the saw and catch a reflection of myself in the blade. Right, how could I forget? I race to my bathroom and fling open the door. At the mirror, I inspect all the ways my body has been altered while my mind was unable to resist.

Always lanky, my form is now a study in angles. My cheekbones protrude like a shelf, the bones on my hips jut out, and my elbows are sharp like a sword.

2 Comments on Pitch+250 - Becoming Jinn, last added: 2/25/2013
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16191. Someone(s) You Should Know: Mrs. Duray's Fervent Learners

There I was, out and about at the 2013 Colorado Chapter IRA Heroes in Literacy Conference in Denver, sharing with teachers proven ways to seed and feed their Young Authors, when a workshop presenter shared a proven way with me I knew I’d quickly share with you.

Please meet Deanna Duray’s Little School Third Graders, digital citizens with the handle Fervent Learners!
Their classroom was one of seven (out of 127 applicants!) in Jefferson County, Colorado to receive on January 14th an iPad 1:1 Grant from the local  Karl Friedman Family Foundation.


I emailed Deanna Duray to ask what she loves best about her third graders blogging.
Having an authentic audience was on the top of her list. 
“It gives us the opportunity to reach outside of our classroom walls and show our families and others how we are growing as writers. Just this last week our class blogged about the upcoming state testing and what it takes to be a FERVENT test taker. I shared our blog link with one of our 6th grade teachers and her students replied back. I love how blogging gives students a wider audience!"

As for her fervent bloggers and what they love best?
“I love that you can comment on other people's blogs!” wrote Micaela.
“I love how I can blog from home!” commented Jovanni.
Kayla loved how “you can express your feelings to all the people that will be reading your blog.”
Kyle loved how “you can change font and write what you want to write.”

Click on Fervent Learners.
Explore the Blogroll.
Scroll the Blog Directory.
Choose a post and share your comments!

If you’re a classroom teacher, consider introducing this opportunity to your students.
If you’re a writer, especially of children’s books, consider each Fervent Learner post a mini-lesson on Voice.

And, thank you, Deanna Duray and Fervent Learners, for sharing your experience and expertise.

Esther Hershenhorn



3 Comments on Someone(s) You Should Know: Mrs. Duray's Fervent Learners, last added: 2/26/2013
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16192. Pitch+250 - Harold – The Kid Who Ruined My Life and Saved the Day

Name: Dana Edwards
Title: Harold – The Kid Who Ruined My Life and Saved the Day
Genre: MG, contemporary


Twelve-year-old Jake and Harold have been neighbors since kindergarten and if you ask Jake, that’s seven years too many. Who cares if Harold’s a genius when it comes to baseball trivia and Algebra? Jake is D-O-N-E! Harold’s “special” and he has a knack for ruining Jake’s social life. But when Jake gets an opportunity to play shortstop for the undefeated Comets, he’ll get a chance to ditch Harold and Jake’s second place team—unless he discovers winning isn’t everything.

1st 250:
On the first day of sixth grade, I cracked open the front door and looked outside. The bus stop was empty. So far, so good. I’d figured Harold’s mom would drive him this year like she did when he was in kindergarten. Harold had trouble when it came to new things. Well, that was one of his problems.

I walked toward the stop and from behind I heard, “Hey Jake! Wait up! It’s 8:03. Bus Number 6 will be here at 8:07.”

I walked faster and called over my shoulder, “Thanks for the update, Harold. I didn’t know I was so early. Tomorrow, I’ll sleep in a whole 4 minutes.”

Harold caught up with me and said, “I woke up at 6:33, but Mom said I couldn’t come out until I saw you.”

Great. Where is that bus?

“Hey, Jake, have you ever heard of Harvey Haddix?” he asked while he rummaged through his book bag.

I knew what he was looking for. Each year before school started, Harold added one green composition notebook to his school supply list and in that notebook he kept track of the times he beat me at anything—Texas Hold’em, NCAA 12, checkers. He’d write down the date, the game, and the score. He also wrote down baseball stats.

“Yeah, Harold, I know all about Harvey.”

I didn’t have a clue, but I thought just this once Harold wouldn’t go into his never-ending monologue about one more Major League ballplayer I’d never heard of.

1 Comments on Pitch+250 - Harold – The Kid Who Ruined My Life and Saved the Day, last added: 2/25/2013
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16193. My tweets

  • Sun, 21:46: RT @realjohngreen: Anyone who believes good books are created by one person is dead wrong. You can't flatten the market without harming ...
  • Sun, 21:49: Photographic proof that my dad is actually a hobbit with interesting smelling temples (at least to dogs). http://t.co/8an5oH4Nzn

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16194. Irma Black Awards

Every year kids across the nation get to vote for their favorite picture book via the Bank Street School's Irma Black Awards. I love a program that allows actual picture book readers to have their voices heard. This year it looks like two of the four nominees are THE DUCKLING GETS A COOKIE!? and GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS.  I'm flattered to have so much of my work represented.

0 Comments on Irma Black Awards as of 2/25/2013 9:01:00 AM
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16195. The Magic of Misleading

When I was a teenager, my mom used to like popping out from around corners and scaring me. I had to be super careful when I came home and the house was dark; just getting from the front door to my room was an adventure because at some point along the way, I knew she was going to get me. Sounds mean, but I actually loved it. And I still love that element of surprise in the stories I read—when I think it's headed one direction and then, WHAM! Surprise! Something happens that I totally didn't see coming, but when I look back, all the clues are there.

This kind of misdirection is magical, but like any good trick, it's hard to pull off. There's not a lot of information out there about how to effectively mislead the reader in a way that doesn't make them hate you forever, but Michaelbrent's here today with some great advice on the topic. So listen and learn, people. Listen and learn...


I’ve always liked magicians. Who doesn’t? For me, a kid who had trouble getting girls to even look at him, I was fascinated by any guy who could convince a girl to get dressed up in what more or less amounted to lingerie and then let him cut her in half, or throw knives at her, or stab her with a sword while she was floating in a water-tank full of sharks that had angry bees superglued to their teeth.

photo credit: Paul-W via photopin cc

The magic was cool, too. But mostly it was the fact that the guy got his pretty assistant to do all that stuff, whereas the girls I knew probably wouldn’t call 911 if I took a bullet for them.

Then I realized that the girl was part of a magician’s act. That he counted on me watching her. Because while I was watching her, he was doing the magic. He was setting up the trick, he was preparing to wow me with the surprise.

It’s a lesson I’ve taken to heart and put to use ever since.

I’m a writer. I’ve written movies, numerous #1 bestselling novels, and am consistently one of Amazon’s bestselling horror writers. And one of the things I like to do most is surprise the audience. My novel The Haunted has spent almost a full year on Amazon’s bestselling Ghost Horror list, and my newest scare-fest Darkbound bowed a few weeks ago and is currently beating out folks like Joe Hill and Dean Koontz on Amazon’s Hot New Horror Releases. Partly (I hope) this is because the books are generally cool. But there’s no denying that a large part of their punch is packed into endings that catch the readers off-guard. They get to the end of the book expecting one thing… and when they get something completely different, they are not only happy, they are absolutely delighted.

So how does a writer go about doing that? How do you mislead your audience in such a way that when the final revelation comes, readers are caught flat-footed… and love you for it?

Well, let’s go back to magic. Remember when you were a kid and your idea of a magic trick was to hold out an object, then demand that your mom close her eyes and you would then run off and hide it? “Open your eyes,” you would say. And Mommy would clap and coo and shout with delight. But not because the magic was any good. No, it was because that kind of reaction is, I’m fairly certain, required under the U.S. Constitution. Mommies must love our tricks.

But non-Mommies? Strangers? Even (gasp!) readers?

They’re a bit tougher.

Readers demand a better magic show. The whole nine yards. Flaming pigeons bursting out of our sleeves, disappearing monkeys, and even – especially – those skimpy assistants. 

Because those assistants are what makes the trick work. Great authors – like great magicians – know that the secret to misdirection isn’t withholding information, it’s giving extra information, and focusing the audience’s attention on that.

A pair of examples: I was recently driving to a conference where I was going to be talking authory stuff to a bunch of fans. On the way I listened to an audiobook, a suspense-thriller by a big-time writer. But I stopped listening rather abruptly when I started screaming because the author had, for the bijillionth time, said, “And then the super-spy told the other super-spy the plan. It was a cool plan, an awesome plan. And the two super-spies started doing the plan stuff, because they were super. But I, the author, won’t tell you what the plan was, because now you will be surprised when you find out. Mwahaha.” 

Okay, I’m probably paraphrasing. But it was pretty close.

Contrast that to the classic twist of recent times, The Sixth Sense. We’re so busy focusing on the ghosts, the scares, the plight of the little boy who we believe to be the protagonist, that we completely miss what was there the whole time (SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS OR SO): the fact that Bruce Willis was a ghost! Eek! But the clues were all there. The filmmaker didn’t hide them. He presented them all. He just gave us extra information, and made sure we paid attention to that instead of to the key stuff he planned on re-springing on us later.

As a reader, a good surprise can be one of the most gratifying experiences I have. But there’s a difference between a final revelation that ties together everything I already know and forces me to look at it in a completely new light… and a junky plot “twist” that the author throws at me out of left field with no warning whatsoever. One of them is a hoot, and makes me not only read the book again, but go around trying to get others to read it like I’ve just joined some kind of highly literary cult. The other just makes me want to hunt down the author and shake him/her until all the minutes he/she has wasted of my life are somehow tossed loose.

Authors are, by and large, solitary folks. We sit in our caves (we call them offices, but most of them are kind of dim and smell a bit odd, so “cave” is probably more apropros) and have only our own thoughts for company. That’s the bad news.

But the good news is that we can call up that attractive assistant at any time. To provide flash, dazzle, and interest. To give information we want our readers to have, so that the audience will not pay attention to the real information that will set them up for a surprise later on. Withhold everything and it’s irritating. But give a little extra, mislead properly… and it’s magic.

Michaelbrent Collings has written numerous bestselling novels, including his latest novel Darkbound. His wife and mommy think he is a can that is chock-full of awesome sauce. Check him out at www.facebook.com/MichaelbrentCollings or michaelbrentcollings.com.

22 Comments on The Magic of Misleading, last added: 3/5/2013
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16196. Giraffe Stuck in the Drawer

Editorial rejection has infected me like a demotivating virus.   I have let it drive me from my office, until I rummaged in cupboards for Tylenol, tea bags and re-organization projects.

My ‘giraffe’ manuscript has languished for a few months.  I know I should send out the manuscript to several new and different editors. Yet, I have had trouble pulling it out of the file drawer.  It’s like my giraffe has entwined itself among the hanging files and is holding the drawer shut.  I know if I coax him out, we may be able to find him a home.  If he stays in the drawer, well...
that’s a sad way for a giraffe to go.

Optimism Search and Recovery??
(Photo by EPO: Wikimedia)
This is a notoriously subjective business.  I have not tried hard enough and I will keep at it.  Options include:  smaller, independent publishers, agents, conference opportunities.    I'm simply looking for ways to recover my optimism.   I take heart in the success of other writers, especially my fellow Paper Waiters -- well done Robin and Brianna!  

Anybody have ‘resurrection after rejection’ stories they want to share?  How do you manage rejection?  How quickly do you come back at it?

6 Comments on Giraffe Stuck in the Drawer, last added: 2/26/2013
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16197. Pitch+250 - Starwisp

Name: Rebecca Harwell
Title: Starwisp
Genre: YA science fiction


Breaking into a high security space station and getting out with anything but cuffs on your wrists is impossible for most 26th century thieves, but Jez Starwisp isn't your average criminal. Raised on a backwards colony where the most advanced tech was a butter churn, she knows her way around lock picks and other archaic tools that top of the line security isn't designed to handle. Together with her annoying android partner, Jez sets out to make a name for herself as the greatest thief in the Stymphalian solar system.

Her next target: Stymphalian Station Beta and a priceless statue belonging to an important delegate. Everything goes according to plan, until the delegate enters the vault as she's robbing it. Before he can raise an alarm, a security guard walks in and shoots the delegate, leaving Jez alive and well to take the blame. With a murder charge on her head, half the solar system is after her (not quite the infamy she wanted), and Jez is staring at the very real possibility of being sent to the inescapable prison planet for life. Along with the help of a bitter adversary, unscrupulous space pirates, and some old-fashioned skill, Jez has to clear her name, stop a murderer, and, oh, save a planet.

The Stymphalian system asked for a hero. They got a thief.

1st 250:
That stupid android wasn’t listening to me again.
I covered my ears against the wailing siren and bent over the hatch. Below, the ladder disappeared into the darkness of the engine bay, punctuated by flashing red emergency lights. I squinted and called down, “Hapi? Just want to let you know I picked our mark for the job at Stymphalian Beta. When we get to the station, we’re stealing the statue.”

The ship shuddered, sending me flying across the tiny bridge and into a rusty metal wall. My breath escaped in a puff. I rubbed my elbow where it’d cracked against the steel. Underneath my tangled legs, the Disharmony’s engines sputtered. My teeth buzzed from the vibrations, and my pulse thundered in my ears.

“I’m a little busy now, Jez. Perhaps we can discuss this later.” Hapi’s voice drifted up from the bottom level of the ship. I crawled back to the hatch. The android’s subtle blue glow stood out against the dark. With inhuman speed, he rushed between engine panels, fiddling around where steam hissed up into the bay.

I gripped the edge of the ladder as another jolt rocked the Disharmony and forced myself to calm down. My gut twisted at the thought of possible engine failure, but that oversized blue computer didn’t need a frightened human to add to his list of things to deal with.

Not to mention he’d never let me live it down.

1 Comments on Pitch+250 - Starwisp, last added: 2/25/2013
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16198. Americas – a mini review

Jason Lee Norman.  Americas.  Wufniks Press, Kindle edition, 2012. In Goodreads terms, I give this 5/5 stars. . . . . . . . . One day, a guy from Canada decided to visit every country in the Americas, in North-to-South order, and write a travelogue about it.  Then he changed his mind and decided [...]

2 Comments on Americas – a mini review, last added: 2/27/2013
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16199. Pitch+250 - A Song in Winter

Name: Kate Michael
Genre: YA Fantasy

When tragedy strikes, 17-year-old Genna retreats deeper into the cocoon of silence she’s maintained since childhood–until Coll, her otherworldly guardian, appears and reveals what she is: one chosen by the gods, destined to become the Immortal Season, Winter. Hunted by a sorceress who has loosed an ancient evil, Genna must now harness her gifts of Song and Air to defend both herself, and the Winter Lands that stand poised on the knife-edge of war. But power always demands a price. Immersed in a dangerous, glittering realm of myth and legend, Genna must make a choice: her destiny, or her mortal life. If she returns home, she’ll lose the one she’s come to love. If she accepts her birthright, she’ll lose the only family she has left, and possibly her soul as well.

First 250:
On the day of my birth, the Winter Solstice, I did not cry, as most newborn infants do when thrust into an unknown world devoid of the warmth and safety of their mother's womb.

I sang.

Only a few notes to be sure, but they were pure, and held the breath of magic.

My mother, who knew nothing of the worlds that shadowed our own, merely smiled and cradled me to her, calling me her little songbird. Little could she have known her words prophetic, or that she would not live to see them fulfilled.

She gave me the name Genevieve, from her favorite operetta and the legendary heroine for which it was written. My sister Natalia, born ten years before me on Christmas Eve, was likewise named for musical inspiration, hers aptly chosen from the Cantica Natalia.

My sister and I both inherited our mother’s raven locks and pale skin, but where Natalia’s eyes were hazel, like our mother’s, mine shone grey, like a winter sky before snowfall. Our mother’s love and talent for music passed naturally to us as well, though for me it was somewhat different.

I did not know it then, but I had been marked by the gods as surely as the stars mark the heavens.

Oddly enough, few knew I could sing. My mother often said that her daughters’ talents far surpassed her own and Natalia would happily sing when asked, her clear contralto silencing everyone in the room.

1 Comments on Pitch+250 - A Song in Winter, last added: 2/25/2013
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16200. exotic travels

I have LOADS to blog about this weekend - my first eBooks! Exeter's animation festival! - but I promised myself I'd get a whole picture book spread painted today, so I'll have to blog about those later. But I thought I'd post a few drawings and photos from my interplanetary trip. This is how I looked on my spaceship about 9:30 last night.

Yesterday morning, I did some exploration of the martian terrain. (Funny, I thought Mars would be much hotter.)

And aliens! I met aliens! These two are named Alfie and Iggie.

I spotted strange liquid formations on the planet's surface:

And found it was inhabited, and not just by aliens, but by two eccentric explorers from Earth, named Sarah and Philip Reeve.

Here's Sarah, back at the comfy space station.

I made an alien comic with their hatchling, Sam:

And we left a coded message to beam back to Gary, my studio shipmate:

Back on Planet Earth now, but just before landing, I caught one last glimpse of the alien landscape:

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