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1001. Review: Once a Champion by Jeannie Watt

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Once a Champion pushed all the right buttons for me.  Both the heroine and hero are wounded in believable ways, and both are struggling to make sense of their new realities.  Matt is an aging rodeo star with a torn up knee, a will to compete that won’t die, and no other options in life.  He refuses to take good advice and retire for the sake of his body.  He knows that he has at least another good season in front of him, if only he can work past his injury.  Liv has been raised to always be agreeable, to always give in to other people’s happiness, despite how unhappy it makes her.  She has been drilled that she must always compromise for the sake of family and relationships, until that doesn’t work for her any more.  And what draws the line in the sand for her?  An injured horse that she refuses to give up on.

I loved how the plot threads tied Matt and Liv together.  Liv had a hopeless crush on Matt in high school.  She tutored him so he could bring his grades up, a requirement if he wanted to continue to compete in the rodeo.  Once he’s in the clear, though, instead of Liv’s dreams coming true and the two of them getting together, Matt starts dating Liv’s stepsister.  Ouch!  Quiet and trained to never cause waves, Liv suffered in silence, watching as her dream guy walked out of her life and never gave her another thought.

Flash forward to the now, and Matt is frantically searching for his missing horse.  He heard a rumor that it’s on Liv’s father’s farm, so off he goes to see if it’s true.  And it is true.  Liv bought Beckett from Matt’s wife, right before their divorce.  The horse’s back was an infected mess, and Liv wasn’t going to leave him in Matt’s care.  Matt was off on the circuit, and he had no idea that his wife sold his horse.  Now he wants him back, and he feels that his future depends on it.  Liv refuses to sell Beckett back to an animal abuser, and the two of them go toe to toe about the ethics of Liv keeping the horse from him.

What Matt doesn’t know is that Beckett was the catalyst to Liv’s self-discovery.  Her fiancé forbid her from buying the horse.  Something snapped inside Liv, and she realized what an unhappy road she was headed down if she stayed with Tim.  When he tells her to pick between him or the horse, I’d have picked the horse, too!  This is the moment that Liv takes a long hard look at herself and decides that she doesn’t like who she is.  She’s going to buy that horse, start her physical therapy practice in the small town where she grew up, and move in with her cranky dad while she figures out what she’s going to do with her life, and who she wants to be.  Little does she know that that horse is going to change her life, Matt’s life, and her father’s life.

I liked both Matt and Liv.  Matt is desperate to get back on the rodeo circuit so he can ignore his messed up family.  If he can’t compete, he doesn’t have many options for a career.  While his family owns a successful ranch, he’s been so angry at his father for the better part of the last 15 years that the thought of working with him makes him spitting mad.  Ignoring his doctor, his physical therapist, and even Liv, he continues to push himself and his knee.  His mid-life crisis is of epic portions.

Liv has two stubborn men to deal with now: Matt and her dad.  Once she lets her guard down about Matt, she decides she’s going to burn off some steam.  Her dad is making her crazy because she knows that he’s not feeling well, but he won’t admit it.  His communication skills are practically zero.  So Liv needs a distraction.  Making it very clear that they can never have a relationship, she and Matt start stumbling down the road of something that looks very much like one.  Liv refuses to compromise any more though, and she thinks that if she and Matt are a couple, she will lose the independence that she’s just so painfully gained.  So she draws another line in the sand, but this one taunts her at every turn.

I enjoyed Once a Champion so much.  It’s like the plot was written just for me.  There’s all of the horsey stuff, fun drill team practices, calf roping, and even Craig, Matt’s geeky teenage cousin.  All of the pieces fit so well together, and they revolved around things that I love reading about.  I could empathize with Liv, and Matt, too.  Who wants to always give in gracefully, without ever getting what they want?  Who wants to give up on a lifetime of competition, even though, physically, it’s the smart thing to do?  The supporting characters were engaging, and that final sentence, in that wonderful epilogue?  Perfect!

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchased at Harlequin.com

From Amazon:

It starts with the horse…

Liv Bailey never forgot her high school crush. Champion roper Matt Montoya always did have that irresistible daredevil swagger. But Liv isn’t Matt’s shy tutor anymore. She’s a grown woman and a physiotherapist with a painful past. Matt isn’t the only tough one now, and when their tempers clash over a horse they both claim ownership of, sparks fly in more ways than one.

Liv’s willing to let Matt bring some passion into her life, but when he opens his heart to her, she’s scared of being hurt again. Liv knows there’s more there than just desire—if she can only trust the cowboy who loves her.

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1002. Amelia's Middle-School Graduation Yearbook by Marissa Moss (except for words and pictures by Amelia) 80pp. RL 5

Wow! It's hard to believe that Marissa Moss's creation, Amelia and her composition book/diary, first hit the shelves 20 years ago! Amelia was not new to me, having just started as a children's bookseller, and having a daughter and a collection of American Girl dolls. Amelia and her notebooks have had a variety of publishers, starting with Tricycle Press. After publishing an excerpt from

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1003. Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for this year's Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize -- awarded for: "book-length literary translations into English from any living European language". As you can see from the list of previous winners, it has a pretty solid record.
       This year's shortlist of eight titles was selected from "nearly 120 titles" (unfortunately not revealed/listed ...). I believe only two -- Jenny Erpenbeck's The End of Days and Andrés Neuman's Talking to Ourselves -- were eligible for this year's Best Translated Book Award; Erwin Mortier's While the Gods were Sleeping will be eligible for next year's award.
       The winner will be announced 13 June.

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1004. Poetry Friday -- Gold




Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

by Robert Frost
(in the public domain)


Diane has the Poetry Friday roundup at Random Noodling.




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1005. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I DidLast Week, Featuring Alexis Dormal and Olof Landström


– From Lena and Olof Landström’s Where Is Pim?


 


– From Dominique Roques’ Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion,
illustrated by Alexis Dormal


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I’ve got a round-up of new picture books. That will be here soon.

* * *

Last week, I wrote here about Lena and Olof Landström’s Where Is Pim? (Gecko Press, April 2015), originally released overseas a couple years ago, as well as Dominique Roques’ Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion!, illustrated by Alexis Dormal and coming to shelves in June from First Second.

I’ve got a bit of art from each book today. Enjoy.

 








 

* * *


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 



 

* * * * * * *

ANNA BANANA AND THE CHOCOLATE EXPLOSION. First American Edition 2015. Text and illustrations © 2012 by Alexis Dormal and Dominique Roques. English translation copyright © 2015 by the publisher, First Second, New York. Spreads here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

WHERE IS PIM? First American Edition 2015 from Gecko Press. Text and illustrations © 2013 by Lena and Olof Landström. Spreads here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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1006. Barbara Bottner's Feet, Go to Sleep blog tour--and Poetry Friday!

.
Howdy, Campers! What's store for you at TeachingAuthors today? A new picture book, its blog tour, a guest author and poet, two original poems, and a reminder to enter our latest book giveaway . Whew!

In honor of Poetry Friday, (link at the bottom of this post) my teacher and friend, New York Times bestselling author, Barbara Bottner has opened her notebook to share a poem with us from a work-in-progress (W.I.P.). And I've added my poem about being in her writing group.

But first: TeachingAuthors is proud to be part of Barbara's blog tour (see tour schedule below) celebrating her brand-new book, Feet, Go to Sleep (Penguin Random House), illustrated by Maggie Smith.


From the book flap:Fiona is not ready for bed. But after a long day at the beach, her mom knows she must be tired from her head to her toes. So together they send each part of her off to sleep.  As Fiona relaxes her body, she remembers a day when feet were for splashing in the waves, legs were for running after cousins, tummy was for holding strawberries, and arms were for throwing beach balls. And bit by bit, memory by memory, Fiona slips from a  great day into a good night.

Trust me, Campers, it's a perfect-for-summer bedtime book, weaving in a relaxation technique we can use to help kids go to sleep after an exciting day.

And when I asked Barbara if she would share a poem from her W.I.P. verse novel, I See Thunder, she said, "Sure!"

I’M A MONSTER
by Barbara Bottner

I’m not Davy’s mother
but Mother demands
that I do things she should do

like take him with me, everywhere I go.
And Davy walks really slowly.
Sometimes I wonder if he does it
just to annoy me.

Today, I’m going to the Grand Concourse
to buy fresh salty pretzels.

Just as I'm leaving, Mother says:
“take David with you.”
Her shrill voice
says do not dare object.

She has no idea how that makes
going to the Grand Concourse
nothing like what I had in mind.
 
“C’mon,” I say.
“Put your jacket on already!”
He's so easy going.
I'm so hard going.

“Where are your glasses, Davy?”
Now my voice
is shrill.

He looks at me with his big browns,
mumbles:  “It’s hard to be me
when you’re angry at me.”

That’s when I get a grip on my nasty self.

(c) Barbara Bottner from her work-in-progress, I SEE THUNDER. All rights reserved.


Thank you, Barbara.  I especially love these lines: He's so easy going./I'm so hard going....“It’s hard to be me/when you’re angry at me.”...and that last line. One poem can say so much.

When asked "Where do you get your ideas?" here are some pearls from Barbara:...the ‘material’ we use in the beginning is often our own.  So I wrote books about being the worst dancer in the class, being messy, being rebellious. It’s not the events themselves, it’s what they stir up in me…We are the clay and we are the potter and I believe you have to be both if you want to be an author…work authentically…follow where the story wants to go.

There's too much to tell you about what a fine teacher Barbara is...


...how intuitive she is, how she challenges us to dig deeper and deeper still...

AROUND BARBARA’S TABLE
by April Halprin Wayland

It's magic, you know
the tinkling of her full moon necklace
impossible feats of metaphor.
Six of us around her rosewood table
savoring tea

spilling over our pages
foreshadowing, fortune telling
drawing stories
out of the shadows
of her drapes.

The illusion of allusion.
A prophecy of sorcery.
She's a shaman jingling bracelets
on her sleight of hand.

It's wizardry, you know.
She's clairvoyant,
soothsayer,
sorceress,
source.

(c) April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

Thanks for including us on your blog tour, Barbara!  Jump on board her tour and you may win a copy of Feet, Go to Sleep! Here's the schedule:

5/21 Shelf-employed

And...you have until midnight, May 15, 2015 to enter TeachingAuthors' latest book giveaway for Stephanie Lyons' new book, Dating Down--don't miss out!

And thank you, Diane of Random Noodling for hosting Poetry Friday!

posted by April Halprin Wayland while sharing sips of Pellegrino with Barbara's new pup


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1007. Friday Feature: Extraordinary Sam and the Adventurers' Guild



“This box may seem empty,

But there’s more than meets the eye…”

Sam Miller seems like an ordinary twelve year-old boy, but the discovery of a mysterious box from his missing grandfather changes his life forever. He soon finds himself in a strange world full of adventure and magic where he must battle pirates, giant spiders, and an evil tyrant. To survive, Sam must overcome his fears, solve the riddles, and most of all, be Extraordinary. 

Find it on Amazon.

Kevin A. Springer grew up on a farm in Maryland where his imagination knew no limits. As a husband and father, he reconnected with his creativity while telling bedtime stories to his two young boys. One such story evolved into his debut book, Extraordinary Sam & the Adventurers’ Guild (Bookfish Books LLC.), which tells the tale of an ordinary boy who finds a hatbox and discovers a world of adventure and self-discovery.
Kevin is a self-proclaimed dreamer and a kid at heart. When he’s not writing or reading, he is coaching soccer or helping with homework. He lives outside of Atlanta with his wife, two extraordinary boys, and dogs. He is also a co-founder of the Middle Grade Mafia blog.
 
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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1008. SURTEX 2015 - claudia owen

Claudia Owen will be exhibiting at Surtex for the very first time this year, Her work will be represented by Cultivate Art Agency in Booth 222. Claudia has been working super hard getting designs ready for the most important show of the year and is excited to be taking part.

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1009. The Invisible Monster of Self-Criticism by Rosamund Hodge

Insecurities and self-doubt seem to be an elemental part of being a writer. Author Rosamund Hodge joins us today to share a very deep and heartfelt post on facing these invisible monsters and writing on.

The Invisible Monster of Self-Criticism by Rosamund Hodge


This post nearly included productivity tips.

"I'm writing about anxiety and self-criticism," I said to myself. "And if you're feeling like you're a terrible writer, obviously the answer is to become a better writer by working harder and more efficiently! . . . Wait."

And that right there is why I'm writing this article.

The Invisible Monster

In 2013, I thought I had the writerly anxiety thing pretty much beat. I had learned to finish novels. I had learned to revise them. I had survived getting rejected by 65 agents, and as my reward I had found an agent and sold my novel. I had completed all the revisions; in six months, Cruel Beauty was going to hit shelves and I would be a really-for-real Published Author. Life was great.

Then it was time to write the second novel.

I had heard, of course, about the Dread Second Novel, and how terrible it was. "That won't be a problem for me," I thought. "I've already written multiple novels! Cruel Beauty is technically #4! No Second Novel Syndrome for me!"

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Long story short: I wrote the novel. Then I rewrote it nine times. I added, removed, or added-then-removed-then-put-back-again characters, sub-plots, chapters, a prologue, a plague, a giant serpent, and a neighboring country. This list is not exhaustive.

The end result was a novel of which I am now extremely proud. But at the time? It nearly destroyed me as a writer. And yes, I have a career in being dramatic, but I am not exaggerating. As long as I have been writing (nineteen years, if you're curious), I have struggled with anxiety and self-criticism. And over the years, I have dealt with that better or worse.

But by the time I finished revising Crimson Bound, it was different. This wasn't feeling burnt-out sometimes, or about a particular project. This was feeling like I had an invisible monster--heavy, slimy, malicious--sitting on my shoulder all of the time, telling me that my book was worthless, that everything I wrote was worthless, that I should just stop. I couldn't read a sentence from my novel without getting depressed. I couldn't enjoy writing--not just working on the novel, but writing anything.

Writing had always been my passion, and more than that, my freedom. No matter what else was going wrong with my life, I could still write. I could still have that joy. You can’t take the sky from me!

. . . Except the invisible monster can. He took the sky away from me: that’s what it felt like, when writing suddenly became a burden.

Since this blog post is not titled "How I Quit Writing, At Last I'm Free," you can probably guess that I got better. But it took a while. It's still something that I'm working on--perhaps because my Second Book Trauma wasn't an Attack Of The Foreign Neurosis. Writing the second book, because it was so challenging, forced me to confront a lot of really old fault-lines in my coping skills.

Which leads me to my disclaimer: I think I have some pretty good advice in this blog post. But there are plenty of times when I don't follow it myself. I can't claim to be actually good at this stuff, just to have been forced to think about it.

Kindness

I have a long and complicated history with self-loathing. When I finally started finishing novels in 2009, it was because I threatened myself with complete public humiliation: I signed up for NaNoWriMo and told everybody I knew that I was doing it--including a bunch of much-admired professional authors I had just met at World Fantasy Convention--and then posted my word-counts every day on a blog. Failure was unthinkable. So I succeeded: I wrote 50,000 words in less than thirty days, and wrote another 170,000 words in the next eight months.

It was magnificent. I had never felt so confident in my life.

Clearly, I decided, guilt-trips and the threat of humiliation were the answer to all my writing problems.

And for a while, they were the answer. I kept writing, and I kept finishing novels, and I kept feeling good about myself. But the threat of seething self-hatred works as a motivator only when you're already succeeding--when you normally feel good about yourself, and therefore you have something to lose. When the problem is just that you don't feel the project is urgent enough.

But when the problem is that you already hate yourself? When you hate your writing to such a paralyzing degree that you can't write anymore?

Trying to hate yourself out of self-hatred supremely doesn't work. Trust me; I really, thoroughly tried. I only started being kind to myself because I didn't have any other options left. And it was really scary, because by that point I had programmed myself to feel that self-hatred meant getting things done meant safety.

But facing that fear was worth it. Because it turns out that when you start being kind to yourself, you can start to heal.

Don't Talk to the Monster

Probably one of the most helpful things I ever did was learn to think of the invisible monster as an invisible monster. I've always had that voice in my head--I think we all do--but I'd always seen it as intrinsically part of myself. If it was my own logical judgment that I was worthless as a writer and a person, how could I fight that? All I had to use against my own logic was my own logic, and there's a kind of psychic entropy that prevents that kind of bootstrapping from working.

But then I learned to imagine that voice as something separate from me: an invisible monster talking to me. And for the first time, it occurred to me that maybe I should tell him to shut up.

I'd always tried to argue with the monster--he would tell me that I was worthless, I would try to come up with reasons why I wasn't so bad, and then I would conscientiously try to evaluate each one. Logic and intellectual integrity demanded that I consider each time whether or not the monster had a point.

The problem with that approach is that the monster is a lying liar who lies. He hates you. He wants to stop you from writing. He is your personal demon, and he tells the truth only to make you believe his lies.

Don't listen to him. Don't argue with him. Don't talk to him. He is not even worth fighting.

Don't.

Therapy

Do you know who taught me to think of my invisible monster as something separate? My therapist.

PSA: Therapy is really great! I think a lot of us have the impression that it's only for people who are:
  1. suicidal
  2. trying to save their marriages
  3. self-absorbed, over-entitled yuppies.

But this is not true. Therapy is not magic, arcane and mystical and completely unrelated to normal life. Talking to your friends is therapy. This article is an attempt at therapy. And if one kind of therapy doesn’t work, it is completely normal and rational to try a different form. Like talking to a professional, licensed therapist.

I didn't start seeing a therapist because of my writing problems; I was already seeing one because of some other (not entirely unrelated) anxiety issues. But when my writing fell apart, that therapist really helped me a lot with putting myself back together. If you have already read all the motivational articles, and you have already tried changing your writing habits, your sleeping habits, and your eating/exercise habits, and you have given yourself plenty of time to work through things and recover, and you are still feeling really sad and anxious about your writing . . . you might want to consider therapy.

Of course, therapy is not an option for everyone, whether because of location, or finances, or you just can’t stand the idea. If so, I would strongly advise finding somebody whom you both respect and trust, and talking to him or her about your problems. I have gotten a whole lot of help out of therapy. I have also gotten a whole lot of help out of talking to my mom. Sometimes, all you really need is to tell somebody you trust about the crazy thoughts, and to have the person assure you that (a) those thoughts really are crazy, and (b) you are worth something anyway.

Humility

I would rather be self-loathing than humble.

This sounds like a contradiction, but it's really not.

I've always wanted to be perfect. I don't really consider that a flaw. There is never anything wrong in wanting to be better, and to keep becoming better.

But it is a flaw when you want to be an omnipotent goddess of writing who completes her exquisite, entirely-on-time novels without any sort of outside assistance. And it is a flaw when you decide that if you're not perfect, that means you are the worst ever, and your terribleness is of such an epic degree that nobody in the world can help you.

That kind of willful despair is not an excess of humility. It's a form of pride. It's the determination to be more special than anyone else, no matter the cost. And it's deeply attractive.

But here's the problem: if you value something more than happiness? You are probably going to get something that's not happiness.

And that's where humility comes in. Because happiness is humble. Happiness is saying, "I am small enough that writing this deeply imperfect story delights me."

Humility is saying, "I need help. I can be helped."

I don't like being humble. At all, ever, for any reason. I would much rather be the Supreme Princess of Despair. But I love writing even more than I love my own pride. When the only way I could keep writing was by losing my pride . . . I chose to keep writing.

And here is the magic, the special secret: when you let go of your pride, people can help you. People can love you.

This past month, I was struggling with a deadline. I wanted to believe I could do it all on my own, but I couldn't. So I told some of my writing friends. And you know what? One of them sent me animated GIFs every morning to remind me that I needed to keep writing. One of them read every chapter as I finished it, and told me what she loved about it.

The Rosamund of two years ago would never have admitted she had those needs. And she would never have received that loving support.

It still hurts, every day, when I choose to be humble. Or when I try to be humble. But I keep trying. And I when I do succeed, I never regret.

Finally

Several months ago, I was telling my therapist how I'd had a lifelong problem with perseverance. Ever since I was twelve, I'd been trying to write, but I kept starting stories that I failed to finish. I had completed novels, but every time it had taken a cataclysmic effort that turned my life upside-down. I was a terrible person and nobody should ever respect me as a writer.

She looked at me and she said, "So what you're saying is, despite sabotaging yourself with self-hatred for years at every turn, you've still kept writing."

I had literally never thought of it that way before. And hearing it honestly changed my life, or at least how I felt about my life.

So this is what I really want to say, and what I want you to hear, if you pay attention to no other part of this blog post:

If you're struggling with writing; if you keep trying, and you keep failing worse and worse; if you can only sometimes manage to try anymore--if you are even just barely hanging onto this life by your fingernails--

Then: you are already strong. You are already brave. You have been fighting for years, and if you are still here? That makes you a hero.


About the Book:


http://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Bound-Rosamund-Hodge/dp/006222476X
When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

About the Author:


Rosamund Hodge loves mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. She writes YA fantasy that draws on two of those things. In her wild youth, she studied Medieval English at Oxford; she now lives in Seattle and writes wildly.

Visit her on the web at http://www.rosamundhodge.net or follow her on Twitter: @rosamundhodge.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads






-- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers


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1010. SURTEX 2015 - lylove

If I was a buyer heading to Surtex one studio I would not want to miss is The Lylove Studio in booth 722. I love their bold and colourful style.

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1011. Social Media Publishing - Titles Matter

Last week I talked about creating your own social network posting schedule template. In that article I mentioned having an Excel column for Titles in the template. I added a ‘Title’ column in my template, so I can tweak the title of a particular post for each time I tweet it within a week, a month, or other. Why do you want to tweak your titles? The hard truth is that only a minute fraction

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1012. Zendaya Interview

Zendaya in K.C. UNDERCOVERZendaya from K. C. Undercover 

If you love Zendaya, then you must read this interview. It’s kind of long, but she talks about everything! She talks about the weird thing that she’s afraid of, her 7th grade eyebrow disaster, going to high school with an 8-year-old, and her advice for girls.

Q: How would you describe K. C.?
Zendaya: K. C. is just a regular girl. What I think is so exciting about her is the fact that she’s just a regular teenager who was put in this really irregular type situation and lifestyle, and I think she kind of just has to make the best out of it. But I love the fact that she’s kind of awkward. She’s not the coolest person in school. She’s not very popular, but is able to be cool and popular through her spy work. She’s able to use all these things that kind of made her nerdy.

ZENDAYA in K.C. Undercover

Photo credit: Disney Channel/Kelsey McNeal

Q: Would you be friends with her?
Zendaya: Absolutely. I think we’re like the same person. In fact, somebody who is close to me was telling me, “It’s funny. On TV you act a lot more like yourself.” And I was like, “Yeah. I do,” because I feel like she’s a lot like me, you know what I mean? She has a lot of characteristics like me, which makes her easier to play and easier to understand.

Q: K. C. is a math and tech whiz. How does that help her in her spying?
Zendaya: It helps her be more problem-solving, you know? The fact that she’s able to think on her feet and solve things with her mind . . . you know, it’s like brain exercise. She’s really sharp.

Q: How about the fight training? Has that been difficult?
Zendaya: Well, fight training is never super-easy, especially when you’re not a martial artist, you know what I mean? That’s not where I started. So for me, I think of it like dancing. It’s like learning new dance choreography, but only you’re punching someone.

Q: Out of acting and dancing and singing and writing, is one talent your favorite?
Zendaya: Honestly I don’t have a favorite. I always try to find time to balance all of them because I think it’s really important if you want to be an entertainer to give each of your arts time and be able to enjoy all of them. You know what I mean? That’s the same for acting, singing, dancing, even visual art as well. So I try to find time for everything.

Q: What career would you follow if you had never been famous?
Zendaya: I feel like my life kind of happened for a reason and everything is the way it is for a reason and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. But I’d maybe want to do something that involves kids. I don’t know if it would be teaching or, you know, coming up with an organization that helps younger people.

Q: What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
Zendaya: Honestly . . . ok, here’s the thing. I’m not a huge experimenter. I’m definitely more of a cheese pizza and fries type of girl. I don’t like to get too crazy. Plus I’m a vegetarian, so any of those super-weird foods I can’t eat.

Q: What is it like going to school on the set of your show?
Zendaya: Well, I go to high school in a classroom with me, Kamil, who’s also 18, and an eight-year-old. [Laughter.] Which is very strange, but it’s funny. It’s also kind of hard because, you know, there are certain things that we’re learning that she hasn’t learned yet. So there’s certain stuff that I can’t really talk about because it’s something that’s way beyond where she’s at right now and it’ll confuse her. But it’s also cool because there’s a lot of teaching moments and she can learn from us being in the classroom as well.

Q: How do you balance your life as a celebrity with just your normal life?
Zendaya: Honestly, all I do is I just do regular kid stuff. It’s like all in a state of mind. For me, I don’t feel like I’m a celebrity or anything like that. I just feel like I’m a regular kid. So what do regular teenagers do? We go to the movies, and we hang out with our friends and that’s honestly what I do. I don’t do anything that special.

Q: Do you have advice for younger girls who look up to you as a role model?
Zendaya: My number one piece of advice is always not to grow up too fast, to enjoy the years that you have as, you know, a 12-year-old because they go by so fast. The next thing you know you’re an 18-year-old and you have to worry about so much and think about so much more. So just enjoy the age that you are. And that’s even when you get older. When you’re 18, enjoy being 18. You don’t want to be 21 yet.

Q: Do you have a motto or a quote that you live by?
Zendaya: My motto is always DFTS. It means “don’t forget to smile” because I think smiling is just a really powerful thing.

Q: When you were little, did you have a word that you couldn’t pronounce?
Zendaya: Milk. I used to say chocolate mook.

Q: If you could invent an ice cream flavor, what would you invent?
Zendaya: It would be . . . “Nutella Greatness.” Maybe it would be vanilla ice cream with Nutella in it. Maybe do a version with caramel. But it all has Nutella with multiple different kinds of things inside.

Q: What’s your biggest fear?
Zendaya: You know, I don’t know why I’m so afraid of flies. It’s not that I’m afraid of them. They’re just really, really annoying and they drive me crazy. But the thing is I feel bad killing them. So I either make my friends kill them or my dad or something. [Laughter.] Or I just let them be . . . like, especially at night time when it’s dark and they, like, buzz around you. I have this irrational fear that they’re going to crawl in my nose. I don’t know.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday or summer activity?
Zendaya: I love vacations. I love going on vacations with my family usually to somewhere tropical. I like that weather where you don’t need a jacket. You just walk around with a tank top and it’s comfortable even at night time. Honestly, I like doing absolutely nothing. Laying by the beach, going to the pool, like just chilling out because sometimes I work so much and I do so much all the time that not doing something is a strange feeling and it’s exciting. I think one of my favorites was when I went to Jamaica. The culture was really awesome, like the music, food, everything out there is really great. And then on top of that, the water is warm. I’m not a huge fan of cold ocean water, so the fact that the water was warm was very exciting.

Q: Do you have a first-day-of-school memory?
Zendaya: Oh, yeah. I remember, It was my first day of seventh grade. I went to get my eyebrows done the day before and the lady really messed up my eyebrows and I was so embarrassed to go to school. I cried. But I think that’s why I’m so obsessed with my eyebrows nowadays.

Q: What are your dreams and hopes for your future?
Zendaya: That’s a good question. Well, I dream to just continue to do my art but continue to spread positive messages and do good things with what I do.

Interview by Gerri Miller
Photos courtesy Disney Channel

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1013. Goals & Techniques Cards

Reflecting on my first experience using TCRWP's goals & technique cards for informational writing with a small group of writers.

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1014. SURTEX 2015 - jennifer wambach

Jennifer Wambach is a licensed artist, illustrator and designer; and a graduate of Make Art that Sells, and ABPSD. Jennifer absolutely love, love, loves that she gets to draw every day, which is all she has wanted to do since since was three years old. Jennifer has won seven Spoonflower Fabric of the Week contests, one of which resulted in her winning design being licensed by Timeless

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1015. 30 Illustrated Recipes

I am so happy this is happening.
Food Ink is on amazon! The book is filled with 30 illustrated recipes by Me, Myself and I!
I haven't even see the book myself and I can't wait to hold a copy in my hand... any day now though. Whoohoo!
Click here to get your own copy on Amazon



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1016. SURTEX 2015 - bright art licensing

Bright Art Licensing will be at Surtex this weekend with their fabulous variety of artists, illustrators, and design styles. Showing in booth 533 Bright is a dedicated art licensing agency supplying artwork to the gift, merchandise and greeting industry. We have a selection of flyers and folio examples from various Bright artists starting with Gladys Baccala. In a break from the normal I will

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1017. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Sheep Go To Sleep

My goodness what a busy week it has been!  I feel like I keep saying that! :)

I already know next week is going to be WAY busier so. . . donations of chocolate will be gratefully accepted :)  (A girl needs fuel!)

(Phyllis says groundhogs also need fuel and she will accept donations of strawberries.)

(And Woolliam (aka Baab) says sheep... oh, never mind, he's asleep.)

As you all know, I am very fond of books about sheep :), and I have the most marvelous new one to share with you today!  It's as perfect as only a Perfect Picture Book can be! :)

Title: Sheep Go To Sleep
Written By: Nancy Shaw
Illustrated By: Margot Apple
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May, 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: bedtime, counting, animals, language fun (rhyme)

Opening: "Winking fireflies light the way,
as sheep stroll home to hit the hay.
Five sheep settle in their shed,
using straw to make the bed."

Brief Synopsis: It's time for bed, but the sheep are having a little trouble settling down.  Fortunately a trusty collie knows just what to do to get them all happy and cozy for the night.

Links To Resources: talk about what things you need to go to sleep - are there some things everyone likes to have at bedtime and other things that are more individual?; Sheep Crafts & Activities; 30 Cute Lamb & Sheep Crafts for Kids & Adults; Marshmallow Sheep Recipes

Why I Like This Book: Delightful rhyme, a sweet, fun story, and adorable art - what's not to love? :)  Just like a lot of children I know, the sheep hear some scary noises and feel a little too worried to fall asleep.  Their friend the collie is as wise and understanding as any parent.  He gives one a hug, one a drink, one a blanket until at last everyone is tucked in safe and cozy, sound asleep.  And in the morning, when the sheep wake up, where do you think the collie has gone?  (I'm not telling. You'll have to read to find out :))  A lovely, comforting story (which incorporates some counting along the way for an added bonus :)) that is a perfect addition to any bedtime bookshelf.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


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1018. Five Family Favorites with Kim T. Griswell, Author of Rufus Goes to the Sea

My five kids are grown now (four boys and one girl), and most of them have children of their own. ... The list got longer and longer and soon it was tough to choose, but these five came out on top.

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1019. Amazonas Comic -A Project Well Worth Supporting!

 
From John Erasmus -a project well worth supporting!
 
"I'm about to put 5000 copies of Amazonas Comics into schools in the Richmond area (through the headteacher internal mailing system) in September and my website www.amazonascomics.com is going live on Monday. 
 
You can see what I'm up to by looking at the blog at the same address. 
 
The aim as I probably mentioned is to get comics into the Amazon itself, in Portuguese and Spanish. 
 
Ultimate aim, save the Rainforest through kid culture power. It's all dreams but as the great philosopher CaptainSensible once remarked, 'unless you have a dream, how can you make a dream come true?' 
 
All I can suggest is keep dreaming! It's a great way to live if you can pull just enough resources together to keep doing it. For my money that means, while I yet breathe. 
 
Best wishes dude!"
 
Please check this out because, as I write, this is a project well worth supporting and John is, after all, in my opinion, one of the best unrecognised artists out there.

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1020. Cartoon – China Return

cartoon china by monicaशींग पींग जिन टिंग टिलनिंग शिंग लिंग टिंग लिंग मरमिग …. अर्थात … भारतीय पत्रकार महान है… गंगा गए गंगा राम चीन गए चीनी राम :)

The post Cartoon – China Return appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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1021. Mysteries of Cove, book 1: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

 

Myteries of COVE_coverAuthor Note:

Like many of my books, the inspiration for my new series Fires of Invention came from the collision of two ideas. The first time the story occurred to me was while I was watching the musical Wicked with my wife. The moment I walked into the theater and saw the huge mechanical dragon above the stage, I thought, Wow! I have to write a story about that! A few weeks later, I was talking with my nephew, who is probably the most creative kid I know, but whose inventiveness often gets him into trouble, and I thought, What if a kid who had the talents of my nephew lived in a world where creativity was against the law? What if the kids were building . . . a steam-powered dragon? Bam! I had my story.

Powered by great feedback from my agent, Michael Bourret, my good friend and author James Dashner, my publisher, Chris Schoebinger, and the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons, I wrote the entire first draft of the first volume in the series, Mysteries of Cove in four weeks. This book is unlike anything I have ever written. There are elements of City of Ember, Dragon Riders, and Hugo in it all mashed up together in a world I fell in love with from the moment I started writing.

I think what’s most exciting to me about this book is that it’s about giving yourself the freedom to imagine. To take chances. Too often we limit ourselves by only trying things we’re confident we can succeed at when what we need to do is give ourselves permission to fail. Often it is when we attempt things with no idea of how we can possibly pull them off that we achieve our greatest successes.

Book Description:

STEAMPUNK! Plus Dragons!

Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion-an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on-and quite possibly their very lives.

Author Bio:

savage, j. scott

Scott Savage is the author of the Farworld middle grade fantasy series and the Case File 13 middle grade monster series. He has been writing and publishing books for over ten years. He has visited over 400 elementary schools, dozens of writers conferences, and taught many writing classes. He has four children and lives with his wife Jennifer and their Border Collie, Pepper, in a windy valley of the Rocky Mountains.

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/J-Scott-Savage/55805743891
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/jscottsavage

INSTAGRAM: jscottsavage

WEBSITE: www.jscottsavage.com


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1022. Apocalypse Baby review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Virginie Despentes' 2010 prix Renaudot-winning novel, Apocalypse Baby.
       Serpent's Tail brought this out in the UK in 2013, and now there's a US edition, too, from The Feminist Press.

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1023. rotation

Daisy is working on a big poetry project for English 10.  She and a partner had to choose a poet from a list, select 10-15 poems  for anthology, write commen-
taries on each poem, write their own poem "similar in content and style" to the poet's work, and analyze their own poem.

Daisy's first choice was Naomi Shihab Nye (I may have influenced that), but they ended up with Natasha Trethewey (also no slouch).  Here's my favorite of the poems that they selected, an exquisitely constructed pantoum which manages to be both simple and as grand as the planets.

Rotation || Natasha Trethewey

Like the moon that night, my father —
         a distant body, white and luminous.
How small I was back then,
         looking up as if from dark earth.

Distant, his body white and luminous, 
         my father stood in the doorway.
Looking up as if from dark earth,
         I saw him outlined in a scrim of light.

My father stood in the doorway
         as if to watch over me as I dreamed....
***********

Read the rest at the Poetry Foundation website, and then send Daisy some good vibes for her original poem.  She's more comfortable with math and visual art, so is feeling rather challenged.  (Personally, selfishly, I'm thinking of a nice villanelle in which I am the warm yellow sun burning queenly and she orbits teenly, keenly around me, a lush little bluegreen planet of statistical formulas.)

Also check out Natasha's Poet Laureate project, a whole PBS NewsHour special series called "Where Poetry Lives," which I managed to miss entirely. It looks like--and this fits her historical, social-personal themes very well--the program is focused on the ways that poetry can contribute to social justice.  Watching it goes on my list of summer treats.

You'll find the round-up this Poetry Friday at Random Noodling with the intriguingly in-sane Diane Mayr.

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1024. SURTEX 2015 - may leong

May Leong is a surface pattern designer living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. May loves to create fresh, fun and whimsical designs as well as beautiful patterns for stationery & gifts, textiles, home and wall décor market. She is debuting at Surtex New York this year and will be represented by Cultivate Art Collective in booth 222 and will be showcasing lots of great new designs for licensing.

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1025. Book Blog Tour: The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality...

Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Language: English
ISBN-10: 937293645
Genre: fantasy, action and adventure

The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality

The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality takes the shape of a fantasy story full of action and adventure. There is a small kingdom set aside in time and space, saintly king, evil duke, prophecy and unlikely hero.  The book is about a real kingdom set up in the present day by a wealthy eccentric in the Canadian wilderness; there is no magic, no bizarre weapons or fantastic creatures. Everything that takes place is the story is possible and plausible. Among other things it’s a serious book about the human predicament and lies across several genres, or maybe falls through the cracks between several genres, and that's what makes it unique.
When Gahan started writing The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality,it had a different title, certain characters, which were present in early project ideas, didn’t make it into the final work. Several scenes took place in locales that disappeared. Gahan was not afraid to just mess around and try all sorts of different approaches because that is the magic brew that what you are looking for will arise out of.  He recommended that other authors work on paper with a ballpoint pen. Writing involves many changes, scratching out and writing between the lines before you ever try to type it out on the computer. Whatever you do have fun and be patient with your creation.

He had created living characters the same way he used to create characters as a ‘method’ actor in his previous career in the theatre. Through the characters own ingenuity and perseverance, chapter-by-chapter the new story unfolded. Some of them lost their lives solving the problem, and he regretted he was not being able to save them, but they made their own decisions. The only veto power he exercised was if they decided to sit down to eat and talk things over and the action began to drag, he would send in a messenger with some bad news to bring them to their feet again.

There was also a time during which he had to set the whole project aside. This made the story ten times better.

Teenagers and adults who enjoy King Arthur-like stories, castles, battles and life-threatening quests will enjoy this Arthurian saga. The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is not only an escapist adventure but at times creates cultural controversy.

Gahan Hanmer's creativity and gift for storytelling came from his background in theatre. Creativity ran in the family, Gahan mother and uncle were well known actors. He developed his talent exclusively as a theater artist, working with many inspired teachers and directors

The result was the following:

What Readers are Saying...

"The mark of a modern classic is a story line handled with such originality that it cannot be imitated. Like Lord of the Flies or The Last Unicorn, The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is in a class by itself; it is one of a kind. --- Diane K. Stevenson, PhD "

About Gahan Hanmer
Gahan speaks French and Spanish and has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. He unintentionally became a grown-up raising two beloved daughters and now lives in the high chaparral desert of California. The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality is available at: Amazon, and on his website.  Ask Gahan Hanmer questions by visiting his website at http://thekingdomontheedgeofreality.com/contact.htm.
Book Excerpt

Sir Leo was glad to see me and shook my hand warmly. I had caught up with him in the field outside the walls where he was practicing with a bow and arrow. “Do you shoot?” he asked me.
“I haven’t since I was a boy.”
He handed me his bow and quiver and watched me put two arrows in the target and scatter five or six others in the grass beyond it.
“That was not too good,” he said, holding out his hand for the bow. In one fluid motion he nocked and drew and loosed and that arrow sprang into the bullseye like it couldn’t wait to do anything he wanted it to.
“That’s fantastic, Leo,” I said, and he grinned with pleasure. “How did you learn to do that?”
“Well, I taught myself. Or you could say I learned it from the birds. Have you ever wished you could fly?”
“Who hasn’t?”
“I made myself miserable with envy watching the birds when I was a boy. But when I discovered archery, I realized there was more than one way to ride the wind. If my body couldn’t do it, my spirit could. Here, take this arrow and throw it at the target.”


This Giveaway is open Internationally.
PRIZES 1 Winners will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash.

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