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Results 16,801 - 16,825 of 235,815
16801. Author Events

Whether at a bookstore, library, or school, these hints will help make your author visit a success. 


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16802. Twelve New ATRIA Titles For 2015 and For YOU!!

Get excited: a brand new year means more books for ATRIA to release and for you to devour! 

Here are just 12 of the many books ATRIA is excited about this year, presented in chronological order.

There are a few here that I would like to read.  How about YOU?

Pub Date: March 3, 2015 / See LEAVING BERLIN’s catalog page here


CONFESS by Colleen Hoover
Pub Date: March 10, 2015 / See CONFESS’ catalog page here


Pub Date: March 17, 2015 / See THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS’ catalog page here

Witch of Painted Sorrows_cover image

WHISPERING SHADOWS by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Pub Date: April 14, 2015 / See WHISPERING SHADOWS’ catalog page here

Cover Image

BLACK IRIS by Leah Raeder
Pub Date: April 28, 2015 / See BLACK IRIS’ catalog page here


THE THIRD WIFE by Lisa Jewell
Pub Date: June 9, 2015 / See THE THIRD WIFE’s catalog page  here

Cover - catalog THIRD WIFE 9781476792187

Pub Date: June 16, 2015 / See MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY’s catalog page here

cover not available

WHEN YOU’RE BACK by Abbi Glines
Pub Date: June 30, 2015 / See WHEN YOU’RE BACK’s catalog page here

9781476776118_WHEN YOU'RE BACK

Pub Date: July 7, 2015 / See CODE OF CONDUCT’s catalog page here


Pub Date: July 28, 2015 / See SCENTS AND SENSIBILITY’s catalog page here

cover not available

Pub Date: September 1, 2015 / See THE YEAR OF THE LOCUST’s catalog page here

Year of the Locust_cover image

THE SURVIVOR by Vince Flynn and Kyle Mills
Pub Date: October 6, 2015 / See THE SURVIVOR’s catalog page here

cover not available

**Be sure to also watch out for new novels by Paul Cleave, John Lescroart, and John Connolly!**


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An Ember in The Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Release Date:  April 28, 2015  from Razorbill
About the Book
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.


Read an Excerpt

An Ember in the Ashes is the debut novel of former Washington Post foreign news desk editor Sabaa Tahir, and we’re not the only ones stoked about its gut-wrenching story of two young fighters, struggling to survive on opposite sides of a brutal war. Paramount has already snapped up movie rights, with two big-deal producers (Haroon Saleem and “Chronicles of Narnia”'s Mark Johnson) planning to adapt the novel for film.

MTV News has a sneak peak up right now! 
Plus, there's a fun giveaway!
Giveaway Details
Five winners will be chosen and they will receive a signed galley and a T-Shirt. 
Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.


Read More

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16804. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e January 16th 2015

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week (or so):

Writing a Synopsis (Janice Hardy)

How E-Books Have Changed the Print Marketplace (Jane Friedman)

Remember Why Readers Seek You Out Online (Rachel Kent)

Don't Make Resolutions. Set Goals (Terry Odell)

How Much Has Changed in 13 Years (Sophie Masson)

Hooks, Lines and Stinkers In Praise of Great Openings (P. J. Parrish)

The Business of Writing, the Art of Civility (Kim Vandervort)

The Self-Publishing Sky is Not Falling (James Scott Bell)

On Perseverance (Eva Lomski)

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2014, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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16805. Celebrating With A Brown Hat, a Brick Wall and a Magazine on Her Birthday!

So Deedy (Dorothea Jensen to you) received a copy of the first ever Red City Review magazine and couldn't resist messing about wearing a brown hat in front of a brick wall like the young lady on the cover to show how excited she is about it!

Here's the front.

And here is Deedy showing off the article inside. Frizzy is even more thrilled about showing up in a real magazine than Deedy is (if such a thing is possible).

 Here's a closeup of the article.
(Deedy says to remind everybody that this article is copyrighted by Red City Review. Whatever that means.)

Anyway, Deedy reports that she has now happily finished the first couple of hours of the first day of her 70th year!

Happy 69th birthday, Deedy, and much love from all the Izzy Elves!

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16806. Kids Run The Asylum

This is a sad world that we live in.  I will tell you that teachers are not in charge of their own professional destiny.  Students, today are in charge.  Students have a tendency to run a muck and control the room.  In my time, growing up, we were afraid of teachers.  Today, students think teachers are a joke. If you teach upper middle class students, some may tell their mommy on you and try to get you into trouble with the intent to do so.  However, if you teach urban or inner city students where their parent may not seen or heard from, then they can control you differently. They may go up to  your face and call you every name under the sun.  Their goal is to make you upset because they can.  Their other goal is to run around the classroom as they must show ownership.  Lastly, they enjoy and get off on smacking their peers over the head and see how many riots they can start. If you let them in each scenario, they can take you down.  I don't want to say this happens everywhere because I am sure there are some schools that have success stories that can vouch for and say that students are not in charge.  However in my many years of experience, (over a decade) I have not seen a utopian society for teachers which leads me to think that in my time, things were not that bad.  Bless the 1980's!  Educators were very fortunate long ago and I would love to see future teachers be as fortunate.  Why are students feeling the need to control teachers?  Is it because they are neglected at home?  Is it because they are given too much power at home?  Is it because "the powers that be," allow students to have to much of a say?  Think about this and remember kids can create many fascinating stories that might not always be true, but yet their stories advocate for their own agenda.  However some students' stories may indeed be accurate, but teachers should not always be persecuted as if they are born criminals.  If you ask any teacher why they felt the need to go into this profession, I guarantee you that they did not do it for the salary, but yearned to help the future minds of tomorrow grow and mature academically, socially, and emotionally.  Bless the teachers of the world!

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16807. Review and Giveaway: Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols




Perfect Couple sounded like a cute read, so I was excited to receive an eARC.  I had a couple issues with the story right off the get go, and they prevented me from completely enjoying the book.  Your mileage will probably vary.  When all was said and done, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either.  It’s a quick read that kept me turning the pages for an afternoon and I don’t regret reading it.

Though it’s the second in Echols’ Superlatives series and I haven’t read the first book, I had no trouble getting up to speed with the characters.  Harper is the yearbook photographer, she’s dating the yearbook editor, and it’s her job to take standout shots before her deadline in two weeks.  There’s tension between Harper and Kennedy almost from page one, and I quickly wondered why she was dating him in the first place.  Kennedy is a pouty kind of guy who has to have his own way or he retaliates by giving Harper the silent treatment.  He doesn’t make her feel good about herself, and I thought he was a complete douche.

Brody is the high school quarterback.  He’s gorgeous and funny, and after he and Harper were voted the perfect couple that never was, she can’t stop thinking about him.  She is crushing on him from afar, but he has a cheerleader girlfriend.  And, oh, yeah, she has that boyfriend.  And that brings me to one of the things that stuck in my craw about this book. I do not like reading about cheating, and that is what Harper and Brody do.

Now, I get that Harper and Kennedy make a terrible couple and he treats her like dirt, but they are still dating and Harper considers him to be her boyfriend.  In fact, she thinks he’s the perfect boyfriend for her, because they are both kind of weird and nerdy.  Harper does everything in her power to not fit in –  she wears retro glasses and retro clothes, and she is certainly not one of the popular girls around school.  When her head gets turned by Brody, she changes, and that’s another thing I did not like.  She chucks her glasses for contacts, her cute one piece bathing suit for a skimpy bikini, and presto!  She looks and dresses like Brody’s girlfriend.  Ick!

I thought it took too long for Harper to ditch Kennedy, and found it disconcerting that her interest in Brody wasn’t piqued until her classmates voted them the perfect couple that never was.  Then suddenly, she wanted to be the perfect couple that was.  I don’t mind that she broke up with Kennedy, but I wanted her to do for herself, not because she was infatuated with Brody.  I thought she broke up with Kennedy and started dating Brody for all the wrong reasons.

I found the conflict with her parents compelling, and enjoyed the tone of the book.  I liked Harper, I just wished she made different decisions.  I found her intelligent and quirky, and thought that she had it together, at least as far as her plans for her future and her determination to go to college despite her mother’s protests.  While Perfect Couple didn’t work on all levels for me, I was entertained and would like to read more by the author.


Series: Superlatives #2
Release date: January 13th 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:

In this second book in The Superlatives trilogy from Endless Summer author Jennifer Echols, Harper and Brody think they’re an unlikely match, but the senior class says they belong together.

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents’ bitter divorce left her wondering what a loving relationship looks like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody ‘Perfect Couple That Never Was’, her friends have been pushing her to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack female admirers, but Harper can’t see herself with him. He’s confused about the match too. Yet they find themselves drawn together; first by curiosity about why the class paired them, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they’re attracted to each other, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating well. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But they feel so changed from making the effort, they can’t forget each other. What if this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?


Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Review and Giveaway: Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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16808. Recently Read or Watched with Various Kids

little bear by sendak

With the boys:

Little Bear.
The original—Huck’s first time, though he’s seen the show of course. He loved the book so much. Although the text is less sophisticated—a bit more Dick-and-Jane—than contemporary early readers, it absolutely holds up. Beautiful pacing; wonderful humor; sweet, cozy tone; warm relationships; and fresh storylines. What a marvel it is. So glad we have more to enjoy together.)

Okay Andy and My New Friend Is So Fun.
Two of my fellow Cybils Early Reader finalists. Huck loved them both. Of course the Elephant and Piggie is a delight. Great plot in this one: Piggie has a new friend and naturally Gerald begins to worry he’s been replaced. Mo Willems is my hero.

With Rilla:

Understood Betsy.
It’s time, it’s time! Color me ecstatic. One of the best readalouds ever, and here’s my last little girl to read it to. Hmm, make that color me wistful. ;) A bit of both, I guess. She’s going to love it so much. I waited and waited until the time was right.

(Meanwhile, Scott is reading her Watership Down. One of his best readalouds. Rose and Beanie are listening in—they wouldn’t have it any other way. This book is a very big deal in our family culture.)

With Beanie:

Short stories: “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Most Dangerous Game.”
Billy Collins poem: “Marginalia.” (Delicious.)

With Rose and Bean:

Big History Project, Unit 1. This week had us reading origin stories from several cultures, watching some really breathtaking videos about space, scale, and various scientific disciplines, and reading a BBC article on Easter Island. Good stuff.

With Rose:

Paradise Lost. 
The whole shebang for her, selections for me. I listened to a number of these Yale Open Courses lectures last fall to prep for this study. Rose is finding it slow going but she enjoys the discussions and agrees that somehow Satan is the most likable character.

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16809. Manhood and Moonshine

Lowell grew up in North Carolina in a small tobacco town. His father was the youngest of eight, and when Lowell was a kid his uncles would talk a lot about another branch of the Allen family that lived over the mountains in Virginia. Lowell’s not sure exactly how the family tree connects up, just that the two branches are related. (A lot of the first names run in both branches, too.)

These Allens were notorious in their county, and a while back I found this article outlining some of their history and crimes. Lowell’s got a complicated relationship to his background and his family history, beyond just its criminal components, but this account he enjoyed. Here the Allens are introduced… and well! the style is vivid.

What they looked like:

(This physical description is also true of Lowell’s side. When we first started dating, and I’d go back to Reidsville with him for weddings and funerals, I could always pick out which were his uncles in the crowd.)

And here—and the point of this post—is my favorite story of Allen wrongdoing.

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16810. By the book (AKA Infographics are most welcome)

A well-timed, well-executed infographic is always welcome. An exquisitely designed one you didn’t know anyone needed and don’t know how anyone either dreamt up the idea or went on to execute it can sometimes make your day. This was the case with the By the book: What age did the greatest authors publish their most […]

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16811. How to Video Your Art: Microphones / Recorders

Four recommended microphones / recorders: MXL TempoZoom H1Zoom H2n, a Lavalier Microphone
The current issue of International Artist magazine published Part 2 of my series on How to Video Your Art. In this post, I want to discuss how to get good audio.

Audio is the most common flaw in art videos. It’s usually caused by trying to record a voice with an onboard camera microphone that’s too far away from the person who is speaking. It’s fairly easy and cheap to overcome this problem. Good audio will do more to make your videos appear professional than anything else.

When I’m making an outdoor video, I like to record a few introductory comments on location before I start the painting. Later, I record a voiceover in the studio over the final edit. In the voiceover, I speak in present tense, as if it's happening now. This makes the voiceover blend in with the field-recorded voice audio.

Hearing the voiceover is as important as seeing the paint strokes, because it allows viewers to get inside your mind as you’re making painting decisions. Doing the voiceover after the fact makes the painting process much easier for me because I don't have to talk while I'm painting, and it makes the editing much easier, too.

In the photo above are four recommended microphones / recorders.

MXL Tempo Microphone
This microphone is specialized for voice and for studio settings. It has a USB connector that plugs into the computer. It makes recording voiceover in post production much easier because you can record directly into the editing timeline and do as many retakes as you want. It's a bit bulky and fragile to take on location, and it takes a while to set up, but it gets excellent sound quality. You can also use it for music performance, podcasts, Skype, etc. 

Zoom H1 Recorder
This small portable digital recorder captures high-quality digital audio to supplement the audio captured by the cameras. It records in stereo in WAV or MP3 files, and has a lo-cut filter. You can select either manual level control or automatic gain control. It's small enough to fit in a pocket or carry on a belt. It’s also useful for recording audio clips from interview subjects. Wind noise is a persistent menace when recording audio outdoors, The best defense is a furry microphone cover called a deadcat windscreen. These windscreens are available commercially, or you can knit your own from novelty yarn.

Zoom H2n Handy Recorder
For around $159.00, less than the price of the two previous items, you can get one device that works as both a USB-microphone and a recorder. Through a USB cable, you can attach it to the computer and use it as a voiceover mic. As a recorder, it has far more features, and an easier set of controls than the Zoom H1. The five microphone elements can be selected in four different field patterns to get a surround effect, a mid-side field or a conventional stereo effect. The manual gain setting uses an old fashioned wheel, rather than a push-button interface, which makes it much easier to use. It runs on two AA batteries (I use rechargeable NimH) and records onto an SD card for many hours of audio.

Audio-Technica Lavalier Microphone
If your video camera has an input for an external microphone, you can use a lavalier microphone. The small mic clips to your shirt beneath your chin. It captures very good audio, especially with the Canon VIXIA camcorders that I use (more in the post Camera Guide). At less than $30.00, wired lav mics cost far less than the wireless models, and they’re less prone to electronic interference. When you don’t need the lav mic for voice, you can clip it to the canvas or sketchbook to capture the contact noise of the pencil or the brush.
My article "How to Video Your Art" is in the February/March issue of International Artist magazine. It also covers editing, time lapse, music, and distribution.

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16812. The interior life is often stupid

The interior life is often stupid. Its egoism blinds it and deafens it; its imagination spins out ignorant tales, fascinated. It fancies that the western wind blows on the Self, and leaves fall at the feet of the Self for a reason, and people are watching. A mind risks real ignorance for the sometimes paltry prize of an imagination enriched. The trick of reason is to get the imagination to seize the actual world—if only from time to time.

The world did not have me in mind; it had no mind. It was a coincidental collection of things and people, of items, an I myself was one such item… I could be connected to the outer world by reason, if I chose, or I could yield to what amounted to a narrative fiction[.]

- Annie Dillard, An American Childhood*

I am an introvert, but don’t worry. I’m not about to launch into one of those self-fascinated pieces about how I am special and misunderstood. It’s just that I do have a very interior life, full of reflections and broodings and spun narratives. I imagine most writers are like that (perhaps not all), but I was struck by this passage and how it crystallizes a constant struggle of mine to do an objective assessment of my reality and spring it free of fancy, to know know what I actually know, and what I’ve constructed.

Writers tend to fancy that every bird symbolizes their own hope, and it’s easy to forget that the bird is minding its own business. This is why I opined recently that I wished I had majored in some “hard science,” where enough information surrounds an object that you can understand it on its own terms: the bird striking across the sky becomes a kestrel, and you know a thing or two about its behavior and habits, so it is no longer a stark image but a living thing. It is not there to inspire you; it is chasing a wren.

This bears on a work in progress and an essential scene — essential to character, not to plot — and I now know what I was trying to accomplish with that scene, though I don’t think I actually need to change anything.

*I may post more about this remarkable book, which recounts a cognitive and perceptual awakening by a child with astounding detail. I do not think Ms. Dillard has ever written a book for children, but her ability to recall the experience of being a child is like nothing I have ever read.

Filed under: Miscellaneous Tagged: childhood, dillard, interiority, shelley

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16813. Book Beginnings - 1/16/15

*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.

This week's book beginnings comes from ONE STEP TOO FAR by Tina Seskis.  A review will be up on February 2.

"The heat is like another person to push past as I make my way along the platform.  I board the train although I don't know whether I should, after all."


It is slow and confusing, but the end is to be a surprise.

This book was featured last week.  It was good and I wanted to share it with everyone.  The review is in the book's title.

THE SECRET OF MAGIC by Deborah Johnson.

"Gotcha! Joe Howard Wilson jerked and his hands went straight to his face, and then to his body, for his gun.  Groping.  Feeling.  Saying his prayers.  Checking to make sure that he was awake and what had happened in that forest in Italy, all the killing, was over."

There are two covers.  This is the cover I have, and I like it better.  :)

Anything with a typewriter on it, catches my eye.

The writing is beautiful, and the characters are authentic and likeable.

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16814. I had been missing my city.

Today I returned.

I took a very long walk toward the southern edge of things, then began to weave (east west east west) back north. There was enough sun. There was ample chill. There were long-timers who stopped to tell me things.

I had three cameras, a pair of sneakers, an old coat. The best day of January, by far.

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16815. To All Who...

To all who paint or sculpt or write,
To all who cook or knit –
Resist the urge, when criticized,
To simply up and quit.

To those who dance or sing or act,
To those who spar or race –
Remember what you do is yours
To discard or embrace.

Ignore the critics who say nay
And disregard their gloom,
For only you can nurture
What’s within and make it bloom.

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16816. Poetry Friday: The Sea-Weed by Elisabeth (Cabazza) Pullen

The flying sea-bird mocked the floating dulse:
"Poor wandering water-weed, where dost thou go,
Astray upon the ocean's restless pulse?"
It said: "I do not know.

"At a cliff's foot I clung and was content,
Swayed to and fro by warm and shallow waves;
Along the coast the storm-wind raging went,
And tore me from my caves.

"I am the bitter herbage of that plain
Where no flocks pasture, and no man shall have
Homestead, nor any tenure there may gain
But only for a grave.

"A worthless weed, a drifting, broken weed,
What can I do in all this boundless sea?
No creature of the universe has need
Or any thought of me."

Hither and yonder, as the winds might blow,
The sea-weed floated. Then a refluent tide
Swept it along to meet a galleon's prow-
"Land ho!" Columbus cried.

- The Sea-Weed by Elisabeth (Cabazza) Pullen

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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16817. Old Dog New Tricks

I've written ten novels and I've approached revision the same for all of them.

After feedback from my editor, I just dove in head first.

Sometimes working in chronological order.

Sometimes skipping around.

Usually fixing the easy stuff first.

Saving the harder stuff for last.

But for my latest work in progress, I'm taking a new approach and I think I like it!

First, I read through my "to do" list of revisions about a gazillion times, so that I had most of it firmly committed to memory.

Then, instead of diving in head first, I took a deep breath and very slowly, methodically read through the entire manuscript.

As I read along, I used Post-It notes to mark the parts I wanted to change or where I wanted to add something.

When I was done.....eureka!

I had a forehead-thwacking DUH moment!

This was a much better approach to revision.

Here's why:

First and foremost, I got a very clear BIG PICTURE of the story as a whole......not just in bits and pieces.
I was left with a pretty clear idea of just how much work I was facing.

I could work in chronological order of the story, which helps me keep the flow going in the right direction vs. a more choppy approach of working out of order. 

I could move those Post-It notes around a bit, changing where I wanted to add new material, if necessary.

I also printed out a calendar to use to mark the days of the story....for my timeline. 

Never did that before.

But I like it!

So there ya go!

Old dog....

new tricks.

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16818. Join the QUEST! Win the TREASURE!

URQ Poster3What do pirates, explorers and children have in common? They all love treasure hunts!
THE ULTIMATE READING QUEST will end on Monday, January 19th, at midnight. This is your last chance to explore new books and authors, and to take home free prizes and books. Plus, one lucky winner, will get a
To enter your name for this SPECIAL TREASURE you must prove yourself worthy by collecting the 49 letters of a secret message! Just by reading this post you already have two of the letters (A and B).
Find the rest within the Quest, writing them down as you go. When you have all 49, unscramble them to decode the secret message. Enter the exact words of the message in the Mystery Prize Rafflecopter right here: a Rafflecopter giveawayAs you're searching for the letters, be sure to leave a comment for each and every author. Not only will you get to chat with the amazing Quest authors, but each comment will earn you extra entries in the general Quest prize giveaway that includes an astonishing 124 free prizes and gifts! a Rafflecopter giveaway
What are you waiting for? Click this button to start collecting the rest of the letters. Then return here and enter to TAKE THE TREASURE!

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16819. Book Shelf Friday!

Book Shelf Friday!

So in honor of it being Friday, I decided it might be entertaining to have a little fun with bookshelves! In this post you'll find pictures of ridiculously cool, (and downright unfair), book shelves- from the colorful to the tall, the zany to the straight up weird! So scroll down for some awesome shelf ideas and nerd fun: 

1. Buzzfeed: 20 Insanely Creative Bookshelves

2. Pinterest: Awesome Bookshelves Board

3. IncredibleThings.com: 20 Brilliant Bookcase Designs 

4. Audra's Ally: Bookshelf Envy 

5. LifeHack: 30 Awesome Bookshelves Every Book Lover Needs To Have

Hope you enjoyed these and happy reading! 


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16820. More, More, More

Today, I continue our Teaching Authors “What Are We ‘Plotting’ for 2015?” series. Deadlines loom for two educational publisher projects as well as a couple other things I hope to accomplish soon, so I promised myself I would keep this short. What I’m plotting is mostly more of the same: more writing, more submitting, and—this is the new part—more sticking my neck out.

On the first of the year, I wrote about my schedule for 2015. I blocked out more time to exercise and added in some time every week to focus on long-term goals. I have been walking more, which is good for my writing because something about the rhythm makes me think differently. I find myself jotting down notes and dictating text messages to send to my email. When I get home, surprise! Ideas!

my walking companion, Bea
One way I hope to stick my neck out is by participating in Poetry Friday more often. Today, I posted a poem on my blog in response to a challenge Joyce Sidman issued last week in an interview with Michelle Heidenrich Barnes on Today’s Little Ditty: a “Deeper Wisdom” poem, modeled after Joyce’s thoughtful “What Do the Trees Know?” in her gorgeous new poetry collection, Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold. I really enjoyed the process, especially with such an inspiring model poem.

I’m also researching editors and trying to submit more manuscripts more regularly. I’d love to participate in conferences. And my web site desperately needs updating. I’d better get to work!

JoAnn Early Macken

P.S. Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Live Your Poem. . . with Irene Latham. Enjoy!

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16821. the full dartmoor pegasus... it's pony time!

And here are all twelve installments of the Dartmoor Pegasus story, starring Kevin the fat flying pony, by Philip Reeve and me! Well, we've come to the end of the first story; we might come back to it because I had too much fun to stop.

. . .

In that second-to-last picture, that's Stuart and me in the Pegasus nest with Sam (Philip and Sarah Reeve's son) and Sarah and Philip down below. (Check out Sarah Reeve's great Dartmoor Instagram photos if you want to see more of the landscape.)

Going on hikes with the Reeves, Stuart and I have encountered quite a few of the flightless ponies. Here's one of them:

On one of these walks, I was telling Philip how I'd always wanted to create a horse story because I was one of those horse-obsessed children. My family used to visit a place not far from our house called Kelsey Creek Farm where I took a 'farm experience course'. I remember making such a stink about not wanting to wear this beige farm experience shirt (beige!) but I loved the horse riding. My legs are too short to reach the stirrups in this photo:

I devoured stacks of romantic stories about horses, and here are just a few of them:

And I watched all the films: The Black Stallion, The Black Stallion Returns, Pharlap, The Man from Snowy River... Here's a scene from that last one that I thought was the most amazing thing ever:

For a horse-obsessed kid, I was incredibly lucky. My mother had a friend named Betty who bred show horses, but she always had a pony or two kicking about in the pasture. This one was named Bluebell and I LOVED Bluebell.

In almost all the books I read about horses, they always featured the theme of this SPECIAL BOND between the horse and its rightful owner (the main character). Perhaps no one would be able to ride the horse except this one good-hearted person. The horse would be wild and free, but come as soon as it could sense its beloved master nearby.

I knew that I couldn't possibly love anyone more than Bluebell, and surely she must realise this - I longed to have her love me back - but the problem was that Bluebell HATED me. This was deeply upsetting.

See how tight those reins are? Staying on top of Bluebell was a constant battle. She was the Amazing Inflatable Horse, and would blow up her belly to an obscene size while I was putting on the saddle. Then I'd ride out and she'd blow out all the air and the saddle would flop sideways with me in it. If that didn't work, she's scrape me off along a fence post. Or buck me over her head. Or roll, or throw me into farm equipment.

No one else wanted to ride Bluebell so it became my mission to be the one person who could tame this wild pony and make her love me. We'd go for mad gallops through the pasture and both come back covered in blood and sweat and foam, and Bluebell hated me with renewed vigour.

I never forgot this deep sense of LONGING as a child, and the thrill of riding very fast and not knowing if I'd break my neck and kind of not caring. I thought, I really must write one of those horse books, like the ones I loved as a child.

But... well, take a look at this cover. Here's one of my Black Stallion books:

It's awfully hard to take this stuff seriously when you're a grownup. Them ponies ain't ever gonna love you, little Sarah. I'm not sure I could make one of these stories with a straight face, it might take a better person than me. So when Philip and I started the Dartmoor Pegasus drawings, with their element of fun absurdity, they felt just right.

People have asked if we're doing a book, but I have no idea; I just wanted something fun to draw that doesn't have any expectations or deadline. BUT... hold your horses! There WILL be something for you to read, that is sure to be a great laugh: one of my favourite webcartoonists, Kate Beaton, is bringing out a fat pony book!

The Princess and the Pony
launches at the end of June with Arthur A. Levine Books in the USA, and you can read a Wired interview with her about it here. Kate's book started with some fat pony comics on her blog, such as this one:

Also check out horse books for older kids by Lauren St John. But I wish there were more comics about horses and ponies. The only recent one I can think of is My Little Pony comics. Here are two panels by Andy Price (story by Katie Cook) and you can get a preview of some more on Comic Book Resources website.

I wish I'd known when I was a kid that I could have made horse comics, when I had all that time and passion. I totally would have done that. Why did I not figure that out?? If there had been any at the library, I would have sat down and read them ALL, in one sitting.

News flash to all the little Sarahs of the world: WE CAN ALL MAKE PONY COMICS.

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16822. The Great Outdoors – Children’s Books and Camping Out by Emma Barnes

Cover illustrator: Jamie Littler
I enjoy hiking, and love cross country skiing (on those rare occasions when I get the chance) but I’ve never been a great one for lugging around heavy backpacks full of clobber. I don’t like sleeping under the stars. Nor do I count among my skills lighting fires, pitching tents or rustling up something on a camp stove.

Yet my latest children’s book is all about camping. So what’s going on?

For one thing while, as a kid, I didn’t ever go camping I did enjoy reading about camping. There were quite a few books I came acrss on this theme – most of them already rather old-fashioned. In fact there’s even a name for this genre in Children’s Literature – “Camping and Tramping”.

 Here’s one I remember – Fell Farm Campers. Published in 1960, like a lot of books in the genre, it featured a family of bluff, outdoorsy upper class children, on holiday from boarding school (in this case in the Lake District) having outdoors adventures of the tent-pitching, map-following, mountain-climbing kind.

 I may sound snotty, but I enjoyed it.

I also read lots of Enid Blyton novels on the theme – her characters were forever pitching tents on Misty Moors, and tucking into picnics with the famous accompaniment of lashings of ginger beer. A lot of these books relied heavily on spies, smugglers etc for the excitement, but the one I liked best was about the day-to-day issues of survival. Jack, Peggy, Mike and Nora set up home on a Secret Island and even build themselves a house out of willow trees. And kidnap a cow. Which they hide in a cave.

It’s Robinson Crusoe for kids, and in my opinion beats the Famous Five hands down. I reread it recently and it still retained its magic.

The absolute classic of all camping books is Swallows and Amazons. In this story, John, Susan, Tittie and Roger sail off on a yacht s during their summer holidays in the Lake District…and Roger can’t even swim. They camp out on Wild Cat Island and soon get into a feud with two more water-bound children – Nancy and Peggy Blackett: the Amazons.

Poster for Swallows and Amazons musical
I owned the whole series. Yet I never really got into them, beyond the first two books. I’m not sure why. Maybe the children were just too competent? Maybe their world seemed too distant from my own? Maybe the extraordinary detail about camping and sailing that many readers love was a bit overwhelming? (I’m still happy to leave the map and compass-reading to others.) Maybe the siblings were too well-behaved – why did they never squabble, like real children?

 I admit though that the first book is a cracking story – brought home to me when I went to the superb musical version a few years ago.

 By contrast, I never had problems identifying with pony-mad Jill Crewe. She was just my kind of camper – getting rained out and taking refuge in a barn, or becoming hopelessly lost after forgetting the directions and taking the wrong turn at a crossroads. She also knew that the ideals of the outdoor life didn’t always quite match the reality.

 “I lay in my sleeping bag and thought how pretty the stars looked, like a black spangled scarf caught up by the moon like a brooch. With such beautiful ideas in my mind, I fell asleep, and woke gasping as somebody began to throw water over me.
 “Stop it,” I yelled, “you beast!” 
“Get up quick!” somebody yelled, “it’s pouring!”

The US also has its classic outdoors books but of a  more perilous kind. Although much of the time she is living in a log cabin, or even a dug out, in between Laura Ingalls Wilder is on the wagon trail. At night there is only the fire, her faithful dog, Jack, and ever-resourceful Ma and Pa to look out for her, in a wild land of wolves, bears and panthers.

 Over half a century later, Vicky Austin travels across the American west with her family. And despite the elapse of time, it is still a potentially dangerous space:

 “I saw a bear!”
“Nonsense,” Daddy said.
“But I did!”
“It must have been a woodchuck or a raccoon.” Daddy spoke in his most reasonable voice. “Not a bear.”

 (The Moon by Night, by Madeleine L’Engle, chapter 6.)

 A few decades later still, I visited the American wilderness, and was just as dazzled as Vicky to spot a bear, on a mountain in Colorado, or coyotes at dawn, near the Grand Canyon. Maybe it was these memories which led to my own heroine, Wild Thing, being desperate to find a bear in the woods…

Yet all these books were written and published before I was born. Then…camping vanished from fiction. Vamoose. If there were such books published in the 1970s, 80s, 90s then I certainly haven’t come across them. I don’t think there are many now, either. A quick google search reveals only a few. Camping and tramping fiction would seem to be a thing of the past.

And yet I didn’t write a camping book from nostalgia for these titles but, because like many people, I’ve been swept up into the camping revival.  I reckon it was while I was camped out in a windswept Yorkshire field, contemplating dismantling my tent in the rain, that inspiration struck.  For camping is popular again part of the interest in getting back to nature and traditional leisure activities that has also fuelled the popularity of suburban hen-keeping, jam-making, hedgerow scavenging or allotment-tending. (Or perhaps it’s because tents are cheap, and more importantly, no longer take hours to put up before collapsing on top of you in the night.)

At least, that’s the appeal for adults. For today’s urban children, I’m speculating that it might be exactly the same reason as for the boarding-school educated heroes and heroines of 1930s fiction – it’s a way of escaping adult supervision and exploring the wider world in freedom. Even if that world is only a field with a stream in one corner, it’s still more than many kids are ever permitted to explore.

 And so, like a lot of children now, my heroines, Kate and Wild Thing, go camping. Though it takes some persuasion on their dad’s part to let them go. – but they do it in a very modern way. They are visiting a Rock Festival, where their Dad is performing with his band. In other respects, though, they are not modern at all. For, in the same way as countless children before them, the main attractions are streams (and falling in them), dens (and building them) and roasting things on sticks.

 It remains to be seen whether the new camping mania is a passing fad. Will x-boxes and the British weather win out? Will thousands of Halfords camping sets end up mouldering unused in the cellar? And are there any great tales of camping trips I’ve overlooked? Please let me know your favourites.

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16823. Commitment is Too Hard Nowadays

LOVE this article!! This was linked on Facebook and honestly, I don’t have much to add. It’s spot on. It perfectly describes the social media age.

And if you wonder why you can’t commit, or if someone you love can’t commit, consider this article. It might save your relationship and possibly teach you long-term happiness.

When we choose—if we commit—we are still one eye wandering at the options. We want the beautiful cut of filet mignon, but we’re too busy eyeing the mediocre buffet, because choice. Because choice. Our choices are killing us. We think choice means something. We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down. Never mind actually feeling satisfied, we don’t even understand what satisfaction looks like, sounds like, feels like. We’re one foot out the door, because outside that door is more, more, more. We don’t see who’s right in front of our eyes asking to be loved, because no one is asking to be loved. We long for something that we still want to believe exists. Yet, we are looking for the next thrill, the next jolt of excitement, the next instant gratification.

We soothe ourselves and distract ourselves and, if we can’t even face the demons inside our own brain, how can we be expected to stick something out, to love someone even when it’s not easy to love them? We bail. We leave. We see a limitless world in a way that no generation before us has seen. We can open up a new tab, look at pictures of Portugal, pull out a Visa, and book a plane ticket. We don’t do this, but we can. The point is that we know we can, even if we don’t have the resources to do so. There are always other tantalizing options. Open up Instagram and see the lives of others, the life we could have. See the places we’re not traveling to. See the lives we’re not living. See the people we’re not dating. We bombard ourselves with stimuli, input, input, input, and we wonder why we’re miserable. We wonder why we’re dissatisfied. We wonder why nothing lasts and everything feels a little hopeless. Because, we have no idea how to see our lives for what they are, instead of what they aren’t.

Read more…

Filed under: Facebook Stories, Relationships

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16824. True Believers Comic Festival

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->Guest Appearance at Inaugural Event

 Hi Folks,

Well, I thought I would start off 2015 by announcing I am one of the guests at the first Comic Festival of the year for me, which is at the True Believers Comic Festival. This is the first time this event has been held.

The event takes place on Saturday February 7th 2015.

It is being held between 10am and 6:30pm.

The Venue is in the magnificent setting of Cheltenham Racecourse – Cheltenham – Gloucestershire – UK – GL50 4SH.

The convention is solely concerned with Comics themselves unlike most other events, which concentrate on Film, TV, Toys, and Cosplay with comics finding themselves marginalised in a ghetto somewhere within the venues.

From all accounts this one follows on from European festivals, like the one I attend each year in Malta, and others in the UK such as Thought Bubble and The Lakes International Comic Art Festival events, so as you can imagine, I am excited to have been asked to take part.

In their words; “The True Believers Comic Festival is a new UK based event that celebrates comics, their creators and the fans who love them.”

Check out the links below to their website and its many different pages of fun-filled activities that they have lined up for everyone visiting.

Guest List




YouTubeWalk Through and Introduction to the True Believer Organisers themselves

I cannot wait to go along and meet everyone.

I’ll be situated at TABLE # F1 – Check out the Map below for more details.


I’m lined up to Join Emma Vieceli, Kate Brown and Dylan Teague on one of the event Panels, DRAWING COMICS, which is taking place at 16:15pm and, which is due to last approximately 30 minutes.

Of course I will also have all the usual products on sale and hope to have some BRAND NEW finished colour work on display from Worlds End – Volume 2 – A Hard reign’s Gonna Fall.

So please feel free to pop by my table and say hi and don’t forget to pick up the books and stuff and check them all out!!! So many folks seem frightened to touch the books until prompted, so please feel yourselves invited to take a look at them all.

Now, I’ll end with some exciting news regarding our latest Worlds End COMPETITION, which will give one lucky family a chance to WIN two adult and two children’s tickets to this wonderful Comic Festival and a Signed Sketch from my good self as the Prizes!!!

Check out this Blog and the News Pages on the Wizards Keep and Worlds End Websites on, Monday 19th January at around 12:00pm for all the details and to enter.


Now let the Magik begin...


See you all down there soon.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
January 16th 2015

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16825. Fathers, Sons, and Baseball

I originally posted this back on July 10, 2008 — before I knew how to insert photos.


Fathers and sons and baseball. You can almost hear the violins, the sap rising from the roots. It’s a tired cliche, of course, but that doesn’t render the dynamic meaningless.

My father, ten years before I came along, with Neal or Billy.

My father wasn’t a sports guy; I can’t remember him ever turning on the television to watch a game of any sort. Hey, I can’t remember having catch with him. But I had four older brothers, and my baseball-loving mom, and a dozen kids on the block for that. Dad was Old School. I think of him as more CEO/CFO in Charge of Household as opposed to today’s helicopter-style parent, forever hovering, eager to bond and share and become best buddies. That wasn’t my father’s way.

So, basically, I played Little League and my father did other things. And I want to make this clear: It was perfectly okay. But one year, when I was ten years old and playing for the Cardinals — astonishingly vivid memories of those games — somehow my father got roped in as a coach. He didn’t know a blessed thing about baseball. Didn’t care to know. The manager, hard-nosed Larry Bassett, taught my father how to keep the scorebook and I’m fairly certain that was the full extent of his usefulness.

I found it embarrassing. Not horribly so, but it felt odd to see my father on the ballfield, clueless and unathletic. What did the other boys think? It was 1971 and my dad was painfully uncool. I loved baseball deeply, passionately. In that sense, we lived on separate planets. Of course now, years later, I see it from a different perspective. And it boils down to this: He was there. As a parent, isn’t that 98% of the job? Just showing up, day after day. Being there. My father is gone now, died almost two years ago, fell on the front lawn and never got back up. Maybe that makes you (me) appreciate those times, those presences, all the more. For he will never “be there” again.

He never read Six Innings, either. If he did, I would have told my father that I loosely modeled a character after him, Mr. Lionni, Alex’s dad, right down to the thick-framed glasses and questionable attire, the black socks, brown loafers and shorts. There’s a scene when Mr. Lionni takes his baseball-loving son, Alex, for extra batting practice. That scene sprang directly from my childhood; I remember the one and only time my father pitched batting practice to me — awkwardly, poorly, like he was hurling foreign objects. But I was struggling with the bat, the same as Alex in my book, and that man, the father, tried to help the best he could.

In Six Innings, it’s a minor scene (pp. 56-58), just a little backstory about one of the boys on the team. But for me, it resonates across the years, like an echo across a vast canyon. My dad and baseball. Our moments together on the diamond, a burnished memory, glowing like hot coals almost forty years hence. He was there. I didn’t appreciate it then, though I certainly recognized the uniqueness of the event; I was just a boy. But that’s what writing gives us, the opportunity to revisit, revalue, remember in the root meaning of the word — to re-member, to make whole again, to bring those disparate things together. Me and Dad and baseball.

Postscript: Oh, yeah, about the name Lionni. That’s another tribute to a great children’s book author by the name of Leo. Someday I should put together a full roster. I see James Marshall manning the Hot Corner, nimble and loose; Maurice Sendak on the hill, strong-armed and determined; maybe sure-handed Bernard Waber over at second base . . .

Addendum II: Today is 1/16/2015, and I came across this post while hunting for other prey. It’s been a week consumed with writing — I’m trying to finish a book today that I started four years ago — and I’ve neglected the blog. Not that anybody cares. Anyway, here’s something. Also: a curiosity. My father was named Alan J. Preller, and grew up on Long Island. The new GM of the San Diego Padres, A.J. Preller, also grew up on Long Island. It’s not a common name. I’ve talked it over with my brother, Al, and we’ve decided he’s probably a second-cousin or something, connected to my late Grandfather, Fred Preller, 22-year assemblyman from Queens, NY. Ah, baseball.

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