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<<August 2014>>
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1001. Robin Williams Dead of Apparent Suicide

Actor Robin Williams has died at the age of 63 from an apparent suicide.

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1002. novel writing difficulty

Question: Is it easy to write a novel at the age of 13? Answer: It's not easy to write a novel at any age, but it can be quite rewarding (personally,

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1003. Monday 11 August

Oh sure, I can write the date, but that doesn’t mean I can believe it. I’d have laid money we weren’t past the 6th or 7th yet. Blink. WB goes back to school on Thursday (!) and Rose starts a Spanish class at the community college next week (!!). I will probably wake up tomorrow and discover that Huck has enrolled in graduate school.

On the forums for my Phone Photography class, someone (possibly my friend Stephanie Elms?) recommended an app called Timehop that, once connected to your various social media accounts, will compile for you each day a look back at what you posted on this date in years past. Thus it was that I discovered today is four years since we (sans Scott) visited Rocky Ridge Farm, where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote all her books.

rockyridgeIn which we continue the family tradition of being unable to all smile for a photo simultaneously, unless Scott is standing behind the photographer working his magic.

It has been a BIG four years. Three of those girls are taller than I now, and that chubby little side of beef is a long, lean boy. There’s a lot less pink in the laundry these days (nearly all of it Rilla’s).


Here’s what we did this weekend: I was asked to be on a panel at WinkieCon, an annual celebration of the Oz books, which I grew up loving as wildly as I did Little House. You can imagine my delight, then, at encountering none other than Ozma herself.


Is that not the most incredible costume? She nailed it perfectly. In addition to being a talented costumer, Natalie makes wonderful jewelry and art.

And that’s not all. My young Polychrome was tickled to meet this fellow:


After the “Playing in Someone Else’s Sandbox” panel there was a booksigning for the authors (Edward Einhorn, Caroline Spector, and me). Look who kept me company at the table!


The convention was a delight for me and my girls, especially Miss Rilla, who dove into a ribbon-hunting quest with considerable verve. She had to seek out attendees with Doctor Who “Companion” ribbons on their badges and ask them to pose for a quick photo; for every five Companion photos she brought back to the game table, she earned a new ribbon for her own badge—starting with Dalek and working her way up through several levels, past Time Lord to a Companion badge of her own. She made a lot of friends that day, let me tell you. :)

photo 2 (5)

One of the highlights of the convention was—I can hardly tell you how fluttery I felt, walking into this room—a collection of Judy Garland’s costumes. Meet Me in St. Louis, The Harvey Girls, Easter Parade—so many treasures there. And we met Judy’s son. Such a nice man. It was quite a day.



If you ever get a chance to go to an Oz convention (especially Winkie Con, which is such a class act), I highly recommend it. Fascinating people, gorgeous books and costumes and handmade wares, really interesting panels—Jane particularly enjoyed “Oz and the American Musical,” which I wish I’d attended myself—and all in a venue MUCH less crowded and overwhelming than, say, Comic-Con. Many thanks to Eric Shanower for the invitation to speak on the panel.

photo 1 (6)

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1004. Listen To Commentary On Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones' Reflections On the Edge of Writing includes a transcript of literary critic Colin Burrow's BBC essay, Fantasies for Children, which you can listen to. Burrow just happens to be Wynne Jones' son.

Burrow says that Wynne Jones fused the ordinary and the magical, which may be why I've liked what I've seen of her work. I can only take so much magic. He also says that Fire and Hemlock is her best book. What!? Not Chrestomanci?

Burrow talks about Wynne Jones' feelings about her childhood and how they impact her writing. If you read Reflections On the Magic of Writing, you hear a lot about that from her, too.

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1005. Shortcake

Strawberries and shortcake,
With some whipped cream on its crown,
Is the greatest ever birthday cake
Deserving of renown.

Though it's fallen out of favor,
I remain a loyal fan,
So to celebrate a birthday,
I will buy one if I can.

Seems the past can still provide us
With a blueprint for a treat
And a slice of whipped cream shortcake
Is still heavenly to eat.

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1006. MY IMPRISONMENT AT HARBORVIEW: UPDATE or Thanks for the lobotomy Ma!

I got discharged from Harborview today due to the excellent efforts of my public defender Marian Naden (who is always busy...so thanks again Marian).

The first thing I have to say is that when you are abducted by the EMT goons (one of whom had a gun tatooed to the back of his right wrist.) and manacled to a gurney for over 48 hours and urinating myself over three times due to the fact that it is humanely impossible to break through steel manacles with your wristbones) and much more comfortable to piss yourself...huh? where was i.

The first thing that happens when you are put into a "psychiatric ward" is that everyone assumes you have no insight or self knowledge..they also assume that you are a Christian (which I am not ...I;m a Taoist/Buddhist).  They also assume that you are totally okay with the mindfuck/Christian fundmentalists known as ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOS (sp?)_who cares AA. bunch CHristian bullshit...and what is the absolute worst about a psychiatric ward is that NOBODY WILL LET YOU SMOKE A FUCKING CAMEL CIGARETTE.) FUCK THAT SHIT.  I COULD TOLERATE MOST THING S but not letting me smoke a cigarette..that is un-fucking-AMerican.  

Anyway I was discharged and im beginning to enjoy being a ex-patient.  THat is all.  Oh yeah the doctors are all control freaks, they have a sadistic German nurse who likes to wear tight clothes that show her great ass and tits, they have a buncha Jesus freak nurses too, they also...and this is the big one...have a nurse who may possibly have Munchausen Syndrome By-Proxy....that's a doozy.

NEW UPDATE: My investigation of  Seattle's WaterWorks AND the upcoming plot of my new NOVEL Night of the Space Zombie Vampires aka Blue Moon Zombies/Vampires....all facts will be revealed on Thursday.



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1007. Bob marley "no woman no cry" 1979

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  i just wanted to be mork, as a kid. make everybody laugh and go to another planet as maybe that's where i came from, all along? sigh...xoxoxoxo, robin. 

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1009. Matchmaking for Writers: Critique Partners

erikaphoto-45Jersey Farm Scribe here on:

Matchmaking for Writers: Critique Partners

It’s your baby, your pride and joy. It’s put you through countless cups of coffee, frustration and tears, drizzled with moments of incomparable joy when things just click. Fingernails have been shredded, dishes have piled up, and sleep?? You’ve basically forgotten what that is.

And now you’re supposed to let someone else actually READ it????


But what if they don’t understand?? They don’t know the characters like I do!! How can I just hand it over to someone else, basically for the sole purpose of being criticized?

What am I? A masochist?

You want the honest answer? It’s simple. The answer is: Yes. Yes, you are. J

Here you are, actively seeking someone who will point out the flaws in your work… the more the better. And it’s going to hurt.

But you don’t want people to just tell you they loved it and what a great writer you are. Well… you do (or at least I certainly do! Sometimes I just need that motivator, that lift, that person that makes me feel good about my work, and myself). But that’s what your friends and family are for! If you do happen to be friends with your critique partners, you need to separate that friendship from the critique process.

It’s incredibly nerve-wracking to hand your manuscript to someone else. And it’s exciting at the same time. This means you have something complete enough for someone to actually read! Go you!! Now you have to be brave enough to let them.

Finding the Right Partners

There is a balance in a good critique partner that just fits. And like most relationships, it’s almost hard to put into words. (Unfortunately there is no eHarmony for us!) Finding the right person or people makes all the difference in what you get out of the process.

Here are a few things I look for:

Praise and critique combo: Everyone has a balance here. Rarely will you find someone who would just say “this stinks”. Most people will balance negatives will some level of positive. But personally, I want someone who isn’t afraid to tell me about major holes or plot arcs that they don’t think work, even if it means a huge re-write. But, for that ego side of me, I also need someone who can also point out a think or two that they DO like, and even better, WHY they like it. This also helps me see my own strengths so I can guide my writing in that direction in the future.

Relative Match in Style: While I don’t think the genres need to match, there does need to be some common ground. Someone who writes zombie thrillers may not be on the same page as a picture book author.   Personal beliefs can come into play here as well. Some people believe strongly in books that push boundaries, others in the value of simplicity and comfort more within those same boundaries. Certainly neither person is right or wrong, but the two would probably not make good critique partners.

They GET Your Writing: You don’t want someone who is going to push you to be anyone other than the true writer inside you, so you need them to appreciates your voice.   If your voice as a writer comes through as an edgy, jaded teenager from a broken home, and your critique partner only likes upbeat, bubbly writing, they’re going to want your writing to be less… you.   No one can (or should) please everyone.   No writing voice pleases everyone either.   You need someone who will encourage the voice inside you to come out.

You Love THEIR Writing: Critique partners is often set up as an exchange. My critique partners are people whose writing I highly respect, I enjoy reading their work, and I learn from their writing. You want someone who you can build a mutual relationship with over time, sharing the ups and downs and exchanging motivation.

Good Communication: Are you looking for just a few comments? Line edits? Overall thoughts? At different stages in the process you may be in need of completely different types of critiques. For example, if you’re submitting to an agent in two days, you may be looking for typos, simple fixes, odd word usage, but NOT major character or plot changes. You need to be able to trust that you can communicate that to them without a problem.

Good critique partners are worth their weight in GOLD. I have been so lucky to have found a few who are amazing, and it really is hard to put into words. Their feedback has been helpful, not just for that particular manuscript, but has given me perspective on my writing that flows forward into all my work.

And as I’ve said before, like Kathy said to me the first time she gave me a critique. critiques are SUGGESTIONS NOT INSTRUCTIONS. It’s important to be open-minded, and put serious non-biased consideration (at least as non-biased as possible) into every one. But don’t feel pressured to take them all. A good critique partner will also never be offended if you didn’t take their suggestions.

Critiques are an important part in the journey of writing and publication. It may take a few tries to find the partners that work best for you. But it’s important to keep looking, because good critique partners can really help you bring your manuscript, and your writing in general, to the next level.

So take the plunge, send work out to be read by others, and find the critique partners that work for you.

Because your manuscripts are worth it!

Thank you Erika for another super article. I am sure everyone will enjoy reading this.

If you are looking for a critique group, you should look first to your local SCBWI Chapter. They should be able to set you on the right path. Plus, don’t forget you can find other writers from around the country to work with online.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, article, inspiration, Process, Tips Tagged: Critique Partners, Erika Wassall, Jersey Farm Scribe, Matchmaking for Writers, Writing and Illustrating

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1010. Of Metal and Wishes

This unusual and hauntingly powerful love story is set in a slaughterhouse factory housing a ghost who grants wishes. The factory hires a cheap labor force and it turns into an exploding workplace. This moving novel weaves violence, tenderness, and forgiveness into one alluring story. Books mentioned in this post Of Metal and Wishes Sarah [...]

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1011. Music Monday - Friend Like Me

Saddened by the news of Robin William's death...
So many memories of him throughout many parts of my life.
(The Drew Struzan poster for Hook. A flawed movie, but it had many very good moments. I always enjoyed Robin William's performance in it).

This is a musical one (from the approximately 20 gazillion times my kids watched Aladdin when they were young):

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I need to draw cats more often. So fun. Can't you picture her purring at your feet? But only because she wants to...because she knows you worship her.

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1013. The Trauma of Everyday Life

Mark Epstein masterfully examines the intersection between psychotherapy and Buddhism, and his new book focuses on a fascinating subject within that convergence: trauma. Using even the Buddha's own personal traumas, Epstein pens an exploration that is wise, insightful, and surprisingly uplifting. Books mentioned in this post Portland Noir (Akashic Noir) Kevin Sampsell Used Trade Paper [...]

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1014. #634 – Double Reverse by Fred Bowen



Double Reverse

by Fred Bowen
Peachtree Publishers               8/01/2014
Age 7 to 12                 144 pages

“READY . . . SET . . . HUT ONE!

“Jesse Wagner has run pass patterns with his older brother Jay since he was a little kid. Now Jay’s heading to college and Jesse’s a wide receiver for the high school freshman team, the Panthers. The season starts off badly, and things get even worse when the Panthers quarterback is injured. Jay suggests that Jesse try out as QB. Jesse knows the playbook backwards and forwards, but he feels that he’s too small for the role. He just doesn’t look the part. Can he play against type and help the Panthers become a winning team?”


“Ready . . . set . . . hut one!” Jesse Wagner and his older brother Jay were running pass patterns at Hobbs Park, just as they had a thousand times before.”

The Story

Jesse Wagner is finally in high school and the wide receiver for the freshman football team. Quinn (right tackle), and Langston (reserve wide receiver), two of Jesse’s best friends, also play on the Panther freshman football team. Jesse has been running pass patterns with his older brother, Jay and now knows all of the plays the Panthers use without referencing the playbook. Jay, last year’s All-Conference quarterback, is now off to Dartmouth College to play quarterback there.

Henry, the freshman quarterback for the freshman Panthers, poor kid, is confused about every play, cannot seem to remember any of them, and his throws are too short or too long, too high or too wide. Henry looks like an all-star quarterback and will scare the other team . . . until the first play. Jesse nearly suffers a concussion trying to go after a bad pass from Henry. The one who does get hurt is Henry. A Panther lineman stumbles into Henry causing a season ending injury.

Meanwhile, Jay is a good quarterback, but so are many other boys. He does not get the job. His coach wants him to play safety. Home for the weekend to decide if he will quit the team or play safety, Jay talks to Jesse while throwing around a football. Jay agrees to accept safety if Jesse agrees to try out for quarterback, now t hat Henry is gone the position is open. Deal made, Jay returns to Dartmouth and Jesse asks to try out. The assistant coach thinks the shorter than the average quarterback could work. The coach is not buying it. A few practice plays and Jesse has won the position and the nickname “Tark” after Fran Tarkington, a short quarterback that ruled the game in the NFL. Only problem is, with quarterback shored up, another game-busting problem becomes visible: the kicking game sucks. The Panthers sorely need a kicker that can kick beyond midfield.

Savannah, who happens to play the other football game (soccer), as the goalie, can kick the ball with a huge depth and a long hang-time impressing Jesse and his friends, and giving them an outrageous idea. Jesse suggests they ask Savannah to kick for their football team. Savannah is intrigued, but will the coaches? Will the freshman football coaches sign off on a girl football player? Will the girls soccer coach sign off on his best player leaving the team to play football? Can Savannah even make a difference to the plagued freshman Panther football team?


Double Reverse highlights high school football, three stars of the game, and situations that place all three in odd positions. For Jay, a big man on a high school campus, he easily becomes a little man on a college campus, and Jay is having trouble accepting this. He thinks ending his football career is a better idea than taking his talent in another direction. He seriously considers quitting the team—and his Dartmouth education—rather than change his positions and play safety.

From Panther's Playbook

From Panther’s Playbook

Jesse is a great wide receiver, or he would be great if the quarterback could ever get the ball to him. Then injury takes Henry—the quarterback—out during the first game. The Panthers do not have a viable quarterback and Jay thinks Jesse can do it. Jesse believes he is too short to play quarterback—he just does not look the part as Henry did, but Henry couldn’t throw the ball or remember plays so what kind of help was his quarterback looks? The brothers make a pact to try the other positions. Turns out, both are great in their new spots and both are happy.

I enjoyed reading Double Reverse. It has a lot of football action and even gives away some of the panther’s playbook. Double Reverse is also about reinventing yourself when the need or opportunity arises. It is about diversifying yourself, rather than being one set thing all your life. I get how Jay feels, but I do not understand how he could risk his education. Jesse and Savannah both soon learn perception and reality do not always match when they are good at positions neither saw themselves at—Jesse as quarterback and Savannah as goalie (soccer) and then kicker (football).

Jesse's Inspired Change of Play

Jesse’s Inspired Change of Play

Girls will love the character of Savannah who does not want to be the goalie, yet turns out to be a killer goalie. When the boys need her, she reinvents herself as a football player and helps her friends finally win a game. Savanna reflects the change in football with more and more girls playing at the high school level and commend the author for inventing this character and making her so fresh and vibrant. There is a lot of ego in girl’s sports, and girls will enjoy that Savannah’s kicking game is the reason the football team wins a game.

Mainly, Double Reverse shows the importance of growth as children age and experience new things. Sometimes it is good to be the best. Other times it is good to be a team player and sacrifice your glory for the team’s glory. I am not interested in football, yet enjoyed Double Reverse very much, and understand the game better after reading this book. I actually loved all the action during the games. After the story are the true stories of two legends, Fran Tarkington and Cal Ripken, both thought to be wrong to play their respective positions in the pros and the inspiration for Double Reverse.

Dartmouth College "Big Green" Roster

Dartmouth College “Big Green” Roster

No one is expecting a winning season, but the Panthers find ways to overcome the odds against them, some by breaking stereotypes and putting the team before themselves—Henry does this upon his return. Boys and girls that like football, be it the American European, will love reading Double Reverse. The story is much more than a football story, making it appealing to both boys and girls, and it’s a story the reluctant reader can savor thanks to shorter sentences and an uncomplicated vocabulary. Double Reverse is an all-around winning story.

DOUBLE REVERSE. Text copyright © 2014 by Fred Bowen. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by XXXXXXXXX. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlantic, GA.

Purchase a copy of Double Reverse at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPeachtree Publishersat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Double Reverse HERE.

Meet the author, Fred Bowen, at his website:   http://www.fredbowen.com/

Find other great books at the Peachtree Publishers website:  http://peachtree-online.com/

Also Writte by Fred Bowen

The Kid Coach

The Kid Coach

Winners Take All

Winners Take All

Soccer Team Upset

Soccer Team Upset

Off the Rim

Off the Rim

Perfect Game

Perfect Game




Reviewed HERE.



double reverse
copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews



Double Reverse

Monday 8/11
The Write Path     http://www.dorinewhite.blogspot.com/

Tuesday 8/12
Kid Lit Reviews     http://kid-lit-reviews.com/
Geo Librarian     http://geolibrarian.blogspot.com/

Wednesday 8/13
Librarian in Cute Shoes     http://www.librarianincuteshoes.blogspot.com/




Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Reluctant Readers, Series Tagged: chidren's book reviews, Dartmouth College Big Green, Fred Bowen, girls high school soccer, girls playing high school football, high shool football, middle grade book, Peachtree Publishers, transforming yourself in sports

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1015. Nest, by Esther Ehrlich

"I should have taken the shortcut home from my bird-watching spot at the salt marsh, because then I wouldn't have to walk past Joey Morell, whipping rocks against the telephone pole in front of his house as the sun goes down." (p. 1)  If you know anything about me, I am a sucker for a good first line, and this one has got the goods.

This is Chirp's (Naomi's) story.  Well, her family's story really.  Her mom is a dancer who has suddenly started to have some problems with her body.  Her leg is dragging around and has been hurting her for a while, but Chirp's somewhat clinical and distant psychiatrist dad isn't really talking about it.  Big sister Rachel is distancing herself as well as she tries on teendom for the first time.

When Chirp's mom is diagnosed with MS the family verily falls apart.  Hannah's existence has always been that of a dancer, and she quickly falls into a deep depression and nobody in the family really knows how to cope.  Chirp finds an ally in a very unexpected person - Joey Morell.

Joey's family is one that Chirp's family looks down on.  They have a 3 sons who run amok, but their problems go deeper than that.  Chirp and Joey find common ground, and as two kids who ultimately are scared and feeling abandoned, they cement their friendship as they slowly reveal the pain inside each of their houses.

I don't want to spoil the plot so I will leave it there, but will also say that Ehrlich is part poet and part magician as she weaves this tale together.  "Ice-blue quiet smacks me when I open the front door after school." (p. 86)  "A little square of my blouse is stuck to my upper arm, like the wrinkly paper on a temporary tattoo before you lift it off and leave a splotchy red heart or yellow smiley face behind." (p. 164)  "The air's already thick and warm, even though the sun's still just a spritz of light in the pitch pines and the scrub oaks and not a hot, round ball bouncing on the top of my head, like it will be soon." (p. 12)  Swoon.

For sure, this is a story filled with heavy and heady stuff.  But it is through the eyes of Chirp, so while it is indeed sad, it is never too much.  It is gorgeous, quiet and filled with hope.  I fell in love with Chirp and Joey as I read. They simply became real, and I turned the pages late into the night because I could not leave their story unfinished.

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1016. Collecting Graphic Novels: What Belongs in the Children’s Library?

graveyardI was so excited when the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book arrived in my library this week. I’ve been looking forward to the graphic novelization for months – advance reviews were glowing, and it seemed like the perfect addition to our Kids Graphic Novel section, which serves all reading children in our library (mostly ages 6-12). Then I opened the book.

Gaiman’s Newbery Award-winner famously opens with the eerie, perfectly spine-chilling line, “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” The graphic novelization of a novel which begins with a family’s murder was always going to be on the dark side. I expected that. I did not expect to turn the second page of a book touted as acceptable for age 8 by 4 of the 5 major review journals and see graphic, bloody images of a family with their throats slit open, red blood pooling around them. These images are hinted at but not described in the novel ( I know, I reread the chapter to be sure!)

Where did you shelve The Lost Boy?

Where did you shelve The Lost Boy?

After quickly conferring with my coworkers, we decided to move the book to the YA Graphic Novel collection. The magic power of the internet helped reassure us in our decision: none less than the venerable NYPL had shelved the book either in YA or Adult graphic novels, depending on the branch. I was bummed to lose what I am sure will be a highly-circulating book to another department, and doubly bummed after reading it – the book was excellent, just not quite a fit for the Children’s Library. I was also glad this happened, as it made me think about how much I rely on reviews when adding to the collection, and how badly reviews had failed me this time around.

Here is my question to you, fellow graphic novel collectors for children: how do you decide if a graphic novel is appropriate for the children’s library, especially when the collection has to appeal to a wider audience than kids in grades 3-6? If a book is dark but not graphic, does it stay (The Lost Boy)? If the characters are battling in a fantastical setting (Battling Boy), does it go in YA or children’s? If there are romantic entanglements (a la Drama), where do you put the book? Where did you put The Graveyard Book?

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1017. The Magician’s Land

The Magician's Land brings Grossman's trilogy to a triumphant conclusion. Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the land he once ruled. He sets out on new adventures with Plum, a young magician. Meanwhile, Janet and Eliot fight to save Fillory from destruction. Books mentioned in this post The Magician's Land Lev Grossman Sale [...]

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1018. Review: Confessions of a Book Burner Not To Be Missed.

Lucha Corpi. Confessions of a book burner : personal essays + stories. Houston, Texas : Arte Público Press, 2014.
ISBN: 9781558857858 1558857850

Michael Sedano

You’ve been at readings where someone asks innocently, “Where do you get your ideas?” or “How do you write?” “Are you your own character?” “Who influenced your writing?” Confessions of a Book Burner imagines such questions and lays out elegant, delightful, and moving essays by the grandmother of Chicana Chicano crime fiction, Lucha Corpi.

Lucha Corpi’s Confessions of a Book Burner assembles twelve essays, each a gem of insight into her writing life, illustrating connections between one writer’s cultural and family history and the stuff of her novels.

Corpi is a 19 year old immigrant when she leaves Mexico for 1960s Berkeley. She doesn’t speak English and knows only her husband. In a few years, the marriage unravels. She becomes a late-night poet, finding expression a mode of healing. Her Spanish language lyrical work finds an audience. She finds herself a single mother determined to make it on her own. She begins writing stories in English. One day her character, Gloria Damasco, finds Corpi and kick-starts the author’s multi-novel Gloria Damasco series.

Lucha Corpi is a nom de plume, a choice explained in one of the many small details the author fills her accounts with. The essays are monologues, written in a casual conversational style. Most of the dozen conversations begin with a child Corpi in her childhood hometown then advance through time to contemporary days. Corpi's engaging narrative draws connections between historical reminiscence and subsequent events while wondering about predicting the future, causality, miracle. Destiny, God, free will, tear at the confluences of history with here and now arising in Corpi's single parent life. Sometimes an induced psychic panic leads to extended unproductive writing droughts.

Like a Corpi novel, Confessions weaves in numerous intellectual challenges, but not without having some fun along the way. “And you’ll suffer” is her mother’s all-purpose argument against young Corpi’s election of medical school. Laugh, then notice the warm relationship between daughter and father, and the distance between mother and daughter. Details like these bring the narrative to life and keep readers eargerly turning pages for more.

Corpi reasons she is the grandmother of U.S. latino crime fiction. Rolando Hinojosa and Michael Nava are the grandfathers, Rudolfo Anaya and Manuel Ramos the fathers of the chicano detective story. Corpi writes the first chicana private eye, followed by Alicia Gaspar de Alba. Thus, Gaspar de Alba is the mother, Corpi the grandmother of the chicana sleuth genre.

Where are the nietas, the literary offspring of such progenitors? Corpi scratches her head at the failure of the genre to attract larger numbers of Chicana writers and readers. Considering half the crime writers published in the United States are women, why do Chicanas shun the literature?

During the movimiento’s emergence, identification excess led some to challenge other’s raza credentials. Corpi, a freckled guera who wrote lyical poetry in castellano, was at the receiving end of such. Not brown enough, not brash enough, not Mexican enough. Maybe those explain why Edward James Olmos didn't kiss Corpi's cheek that time.

Corpi describes some pedo between Jose Montoya and Ricardo Sanchez at a Flor y Canto called The Last Canto held in an Oakland bar. She was the first reader and her performance style captures the house. The combatants and drinkers calmed, Lucha receives a rousing ovation and recalls the first time her recitation reached an audience’s sinews.

I smiled at Corpi’s citing that floricanto. Richard Montoya showed part of a video of The Last Canto, at the 2010 reunion Flor y Canto at USC. The video begins with Lucha’s applause and her exit. Then Sánchez endures merciless heckling in a hilarious reward for the hubris Corpi backgrounds here.

Confessions of a Book Burner will keep readers entertained as the writer takes her non-fiction along creative pathways that enlighten at the same time. It’s not to be missed by the writer seeking role models. It’s not to be missed by the student of U.S. Literature seeking insight into formative years of Chicano Literature. It’s not to be missed by crime fiction fans and Lucha Corpi fans. For gente who enjoy good writing, good story, interesting material, Confessions of a Book Burner is not to be missed.

Mail Bag
Angela de Hoyos Scholarship

La Bloga friend Juan Tejeda sends this for your attention:


Palo Alto College (PAC), one of five colleges in the Alamo Colleges district in San Antonio, Texas, announces the establishment of the Ángela De Hoyos Scholarship Fund for Mexican American Studies (MAS) students. The late, great Ángela De Hoyos, author of Arise Chicano, Chicano Poems, Woman, Woman and Selected Poems, was one of the most beloved of the early Chicana poets from San Antonio, and a mentor/benefactor to many Chicana/o writers and arts organizations. Her husband, Moses Sandoval, who recently contributed $5,000 to establish the scholarship in Ángela’s name, stated that if we matched his $5,000 donation, that he would contribute another $5,000, for a total of $15,000, that would go to deserving MAS majors at Palo Alto College, as well as Conjunto and Mariachi music students.

Thus we are beginning a two-week e-mail and Facebook campaign, before we begin the Fall, 2014 semester, to raise the other $5,000. We already have a head start as the President of PAC, Dr. Michael Flores, said that PAC would contribute $1,000, and I have made a pledge of $500, so we only have $3,500 to raise. I figured that if we could get 35 people to contribute $100 each, we would meet our goal, so I’m asking all of my colleagues and camaradas, and friends of Ángela De Hoyos, to consider contributing, in any amount you can afford, to this scholarship fund which will be administered by the Alamo Colleges Foundation and PAC’s Center for Mexican American Studies. Your contribution is tax-deductible and if you contribute $50 or more, I will send you a copy of the Conjunto Palo Alto CD; if you send in $100 or more, I will send you the Conjunto Palo Alto CD, plus the PAC Music Ensembles CD that includes the PAC Jazz Ensemble, Mariachi Palomino and Conjunto Palo Alto (all PAC student ensembles).

Make your checks payable to Ángela De Hoyos Scholarship (and at the bottom Memo put Palo Alto College), and mail it to Palo Alto College, c/o Juan Tejeda, 302 Stratford Ct., San Antonio, TX 78223. Be sure to include your mailing address so that we can send you a thank you letter and the CD’s.

Gracias for your support on behalf of our Mexican American Studies majors, and our Conjunto and Mariachi students. If you have any questions, I can also be reached at 210.710.8537.

Juan Tejeda
Instructor of Music & Mexican American Studies
Palo Alto College Center for Mexican American Studies

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1019. Australia’s Rubber House Produces 8 Adult Swim Promos

Australian animation studio Rubber House has completed a series of bumpers and idents Adult Swim.

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1020. Shark Week Who Would Win

Shark WeekWho would win this Shark Week match-up?Who Would Win? Shark vs. baby hedgehog

Shark photo courtesy Brook Ward. Hedgehog photo courtesy Tiffany Bailey

Are you loving Shark Week this year, or are you like me, hiding under your covers and thinking about baby hedgehogs? Leave your answer in the Comments!

image from kids.scholastic.com Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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1021. Watercolor in the Wild Materials

(Link to video excerpt)

Here's a complete list of materials and a buyer's guide for plein-air watercolor painting.
This is a supplement to my instructional video "Watercolor in the Wild."

I carry these art supplies practically everywhere. The basic elements are pretty simple: a sketchbook, a paint box, a few brushes, watercolor pencils, a rag, and some water. They're all listed in detail below.

Watercolor Sketchbook
• I have often used the Moleskine Watercolor Album (5 x 8.25 inches)  I like the fact that it opens flat and I like the horizontal (landscape) format. It has 36 pages—72 if you paint on the facing pages. It has a fake leather hardbound cover, an elastic strap, and a pocket in the back. The paper is 90-pound weight, which is rather lightweight for very wet watercolors, but it's OK if you're doing mostly drawings rather than juicy paintings.

• I also recommend the Pentalic Aqua Journal (5 x 8 inch), which is priced about the same as the Moleskine but has better paper — 140 lb (300gsm) cold press, acid-free paper. With the heavier paper, it has just 24 pages. But they'll hold up to wet washes or even light impasto, such as with casein. It has generous extras, such as an elastic strap, a back pocket, an elastic brush-holding sleeve, and a placeholder ribbon.

• The Global Art Materials Watercolor Book (5-1/4 by 8-1/4 inch) is another alternative with a linen cover. The linen cover is attractive if you want to do a little acrylic or oil painting on the cover.

• The Stillman and Birn Beta Hardbound Sketchbook (5.5 x 8.5 inches) is a vertical book with 26 pages of cold press 180lb. archival paper. The paper is substantial, but it doesn't open flat easily. It can be held flat with clips. If you're thinking of working in casein, the heavier paper reduces the chance of impastos cracking.

• The Pentalic Watercolor Field Book (7 x 10 inches), is well suited those who prefer a spiral binding. It's bigger, so check to make sure it will fit in your belt pouch or purse.

To decorate the cover, I use the oil-based One-Shot Sign Painter's Lettering Enamel, which is very opaque. Paint markers also cover fairly well, but they tend to wear off faster. I usually title the sketchbook with a phrase taken from the first page of the sketchbook.

Watercolor Sets

Quality Metal Pan Sets
Rublev natural watercolor pigment basic set (12 full pans of historical colors)

Custom Sets Made from Empty Pans
You can get exactly the colors you want by buying an empty metal box and filling it with colors that you choose. When the colors run low, you can refill the pans with tube colors.

Large size empty box. In my videos, I'm using an old Talens box from the 1960s. You can get a similar large empty metal watercolor box, which holds 24 half pan colors or 12 full pans. This box opens up to 9 x 8 x 1 inches. You can combine half pans and full pans in the same box, using full pans for colors you use more often. Sometimes I put in two pans of the same color if I use them a lot.

Small size empty box (left). The smaller empty metal watercolor box opens up to about 5 x 8 inches, which fits the left side of a Moleskine or Pentalic sketchbook. This box will hold 12 half pans or six full pans.

Empty half pans. The most economical route is to buy plastic empty half pans and fill them with tube colors. The empty pans cost only 34 cents each. For students or anyone on a tight budget, you can get the 12 Tubes of Student Grade Winsor and Newton Watercolor Tubes for just $30.00. If you have dried up watercolor tubes, don't throw them out; cut them open and scrape out the tar-like pigment to fill empty half pans. Even if they're dried hard you can reactivate them with water once you cut the tube open.

Alternately, you can fill your box with factory-filled pans.

Colors--Here's a basic set of 12 half pans. These are really all you need.
Payne's grey (a bluish black)

Eight more classic colors if you have room for them.

Economical options

If you're looking for a super-compact pocket rig, or if you're a student, a first-timer, or on a budget, I recommend the Winsor and Newton pocket watercolor set with 12 colors, which you can get for around $15.00. This has a plastic box containing Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue, Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Cobalt Blue Hue, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Sap Green, Burnt Umber, Alizarin Crimson, Viridian Hue, and Chinese White. That's a pretty good assortment, and the quality of the paint is OK. Note that when it says "hue," they're replacing an expensive pigment with a cheaper pigment of a similar hue.
A lot of field artists and urban sketchers love the Sakura Koy 12-Color Field Set with Water Brush, which is under $20. It includes the brush and fits in your pocket. The case is made of plastic, so you can't use magnets on it, but the lid has mixing wells, which helps if you're laying down larger washes. Two cautions: the lid doesn't open all the way flat, and when the colors are wet they can spill over into each other.

There's kind of an arms race for small sets. Some of the smallest watercolor sets are the size of a business card, and easily fit into a pocket. At left is the Pocket Palette by Expeditionary Art. The metal pans can be filled with tube colors, and they're held in place by a magnetic backing inside the case. The flip-up metal lid has a white surface for mixing colors. The downsides are: 1. The lack of mixing wells to hold wet washes, 2. The reflective metal, which can be blinding on bright days, and 3. The overlapping flange on the left side that covers part of the pans.

At lower right is a 30-year-old Winsor and Newton "Bijou Box," which they no longer make. It has an enameled steel case with 18 colors and a tiny travel brush. The pans are tiny, and I think there are more colors than necessary. I'd rather see 6 or 8 for a box this size. The lid has four mixing wells, which is a big plus. If you can find one of these used for a good price, grab it, but a comparable super-mini set that you can get in USA is the Winsor and Newton Cotman Water Color Mini, or you can make your own equivalent of the Bijou with an old Altoid tin, some spray enamel paint, and some extra half pans.

The brushes shown above are the Niji Short Handled Water Brush, a small travel brush, and a sawed off brush. The book is the Moleskine Pocket Watercolor Book, 3½" × 5½" (9 × 14cm)

For more on these micro kits, check out my YouTube video "Ultra Compact Watercolor Kits," part of the "Watercolor in the Wild: Bonus Features" video.

Water Cup and Rags
I use a Nalgene 2-Ounce Jar with three 1/4 x 1/16 inch Neodymium Magnets, held on with Magic Sculpt Epoxy Clay. You could also use a generic epoxy plumber's putty instead of the Magic Sculpt. The magnets are powerful, so keep them away from your credit card and phone.

I keep a second jar with clear water handy, and often just a regular drinking water bottle, and I use an old plastic "Tupperware" basin or yogurt cup for a brush cleaning bucket when I'm painting with the tripod easel.

I cut up old cotton T-shirts for paint rags, or use paper restaurant napkins or paper towels.

Here's a good inexpensive starter set of brushes: Richeson Sable Hair Watercolor Brush Set/5

I like sable flat brushes, such as:
1/2-Inch Sable Brush
3/4-Inch Sable Brush

I also use a 1/4-Inch Synthetic Watercolor Flat Brush, which work well for architectural detail.

For laying bigger washes and wetting the paper, a Cat's Tongue Wash Brush is a good tool. It has a flattened ferrule similar to a filbert brush.

Round Kolinsky sables (note: some brands may become discontinued in the U.S. as the Kolinsky ban exhausts stock on hand):
Winsor and Newton Series 7 
Richeson Siberian Kolinsky brushes
Escoda Optimo Kolinsky
Da Vinci Maestro Series Kolinsky Red 

If you have a very compact kit and can't carry a box of brushes, you might want to use a Sable Round Travel Brush, which safely stows the brush tip inside the handle.

Water Brushes
I always try to carry four Niji Water Brushes with large round tips. They're the best brand I've found, and stand up to a lot of hard use. For info about filling them with ink, please scroll farther down this post.

I also carry a tube of white gouache, such as Holbein Permanent White GouacheWinsor and Newton is also good. Sometimes I bring a whole set of gouache colors to supplement the transparent watercolors, but gouache will be the topic of future posts.

Plastic clamps
Here's a 2-Inch Plastic Clamp and a 3.75-inch Clamp. Of all the clips and clamps that I've tried, these seem to be the most versatile for holding the book open or clipping the watercolor box to the easel.

I use a Kum Pencil Sharpener, which not only catches the shavings, but also has a little flap that covers the hole, so the shavings don't leak out and pollute the pages of the sketchbook. 

I carry two erasers, a Kneaded Eraser and a White Latex-Free Eraser.

Water-Soluble Colored Pencils
These add a lot of options and variations to traditional watercolors. I recommend trying a few test pencils from several different brands to see which ones you like. My favorite brand is Caran D'ache Supracolor, but I also like Derwent Inktense Pencils for rich, saturated colors.

I started with a Caran d'Ache Supracolor Set of 18. Over the years I have added and subtracted individual colors from the standard set. Below are the colors I take with me most often. It emphasizes warm colors that I like for portraits and animal drawing.

Caran d'Ache Supracolor watercolor pencils
#001 White

I also often use a Graphite Drawing Pencil(HB, B, or 2B) for the initial drawing.

Pencil Box
The pencil box I use was customized by armorer Tony Swatton. It began as a metal box I bought at a Japanese bookstore called Kinokuniya in Los Angeles. (I painted the Apple logo as a gag.)

Tony then added the hammered brass piece with rivets and I aged it with paint.

Waist Pack / Fanny Pouch / Belt Bag
I use a Black Diamond Spring '03 Waist Bag (Unfortunately it's 11 years old and discontinued, so the photo is for comparison.)
[The Explorers] Multi-Purposes Fanny Pack looks pretty similar. I recommend that you buy the pack at an outdoor store after you select the contents to make sure everything fits. A quiet zipper and minimal Velcro is a consideration if you plan to sketch in quiet places where you don't want to attract attention.

I use a Velbon CX-444 Tripod because it's lightweight, folds small, and reaches up to a reasonable standing height when fully extended.

Three legged stool
Tripod Stool is something I carry in the car or in a backpack when I plan to sit. Sometimes I bring an extra to use as a field taboret for art gear.

Sketchbook Pochade 
The simplest sketchbook holder is a piece of 1/4 inch or 5/16 inch thick plywood cut to the dimensions of the sketchbook opened up flat. I call it a "sketchbook pochade." I drill a hole in the back of the panel and insert a 1/4-20 Tee Nut which will attach to the tripod and securely hold the plywood. The sketchbook attaches to the plywood base with rubber bands or plastic clamps.

Homemade Easel
I made this device, which I call a Sketchbook Pochade Easel to hold the paint set, the water, and the sketchbook. I also use this for gouache and casein. The diffuser frame attaches to the top, and it uses White Rip-Stop Nylon Fabric that I sewed onto an old aluminum Pendaflex file folder frame, a holdover from the dinosaur era.

Here's a clearer shot of the sketchbook pochade. It attaches to the tripod (I use a Velbon CX-444 Tripod) with a Tee Nut, and uses a Southco SC-773 Adjustable Torque Hinge and a furniture slider to hold the parts at the proper angle. The "camera bar" for holding the video camera swings out from the front, held at a constant position by a piece of brass furniture hardware called a Friction Lid Support.

The palette area is made from the lid from a pencil box, primed and then spray-painted with white enamel, and held on with Velcro. That way it can be removed for cleaning, especially when I use it for casein or gouache.

Refilling Water Brushes and Fountain Pens

Water Brushes 
I've tried several brands, but none seem as reliable as Niji Water Brushes. I recommend the ones with round tips, but you can also get them with a 12mm Flat Tip. I normally carry between three and five water brushes. One is filled with water, which fills easily under a normal faucet by unscrewing the handle and squeezing the barrel.

The others are filled with blue, black, brown, and gray. I mix the gray myself, put it in an empty bottle, and mark the bottle. To identify which water brush is which, I paint the back end tips with acrylic (see lower left of photo above).

The ink in a brush pen should be water-soluble so that it doesn't clog the brush fibers. I use Higgins Eternal Ink 0 Comments on Watercolor in the Wild Materials as of 8/11/2014 10:58:00 PM
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It’s Tuesday – time to share your Slice with the Two Writing Teachers Community. Here is a chart from last week’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project August Writing Institute at Columbia University.… Continue reading

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1023. In the Kingdom of Ice

Truly a great adventure story, Sides's thrilling tale of the 1879 polar expedition of the USS Jeannette left me slack-jawed and wide-eyed. Vividly experience the grim, harrowing journey into a frozen world and discover the fate of the heroic crew determined to survive. Impossible to put down, this book has award winner written all over [...]

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1024. The Benefits of Visual Variety

via Temple of the Seven Golden Camels http://ift.tt/1BaomcR

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1025. Monday Poetry Stretch - The Kitchen

I had planned to write to form again this week, but I found myself thinking quite a lot of my mother this weekend, and nearly every memory was of her in the kitchen.

As a child I hated chores in the kitchen, particularly drying the dishes, but these are some of the times with my mom I remember most fondly. She always washed. I dried and put dishes away. I can still see her the ceramic elephant on the windowsill, trunk raised and holding her rings while she plunged her hands into very hot soapy water to scrub the pots and pans. That elephant sits on my kitchen windowsill now.

Perhaps my fondest memory of my mom standing with her back against the oven, waiting for it to warm her in the cold of winter. I wasn't tall enough to reap such benefits, but can remember putting my hand on her back and feeling just how toasty she'd gotten.

So, your challenge for this week is to write a poem set in the kitchen. I hope you will join me. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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