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1001. Social Media Marketing and Time Management

There’s a great quote at BufferSocial, “Social media shouldn’t be a time waster. It should be a money maker.” I absolutely love this quote. If you’re like me, you spend time and effort keeping up with your social media channels. Post to Twitter. Post to GooglePlus. Post to Facebook. Post to StumbleUpon. Post to Pinterest. Post to LinkedIn. Post to . . . Then analyze what’s working and tweak

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1002. Guest Post: Carla Kelly, Author of Softly Falling

Carla Kelly is celebrating the release of Softly Falling, a historical romance set in Wyoming.  She stopped by the virtual offices to share Lily’s winter survival kit with us.

Top 5 items in Lily’s winter survival kit by Carla Kelly: 

Bits of food for the school’s pack rat

Copy of Ivanhoe and Ben-Hur, because Lily has been put in charge of morale.

A lady’s pair of long johns, because her English underwear won’t do in a Wyoming winter

Hand hatchet for busting up furniture to burn

A railroad timetable, with San Francisco underlined and circled in red.

And a bonus: slivers of wood soaked in coal oil for fire-starting purposes.

About the book:

Beautiful Lily Branson learns that her wayward father has lost his Wyoming cattle ranch in a card game to handsome cowboy Jack Sinclair, no less! When a series of deadly winter storms sets in, Lily and Jack must work together to save the cattle—as well as their hearts.

About the author:

Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for Borrowed Light and My Loving Vigil Keeping.

To order, click on the cover:

The post Guest Post: Carla Kelly, Author of Softly Falling appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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1003. PiBoIdMo Day 14: Barbara Krasner Goes for Truth (plus a prize!)

barbarakrasnerby Barbara Krasner

In a million years I’d never have thought my first children’s book would be a picture book. While I was working mostly on YA historical novels during my MFA program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, a friend teased and said picture books would be my future.

I write picture book biographies. Well, no, that’s not quite right. I write picture book historical fiction, because I invent dialogue based on real-life stories. And I did the unthinkable in my picture book, Goldie Takes a Stand! Golda Meir’s First Crusade—I wrote it in first person. The version I submitted to publisher Kar-Ben, the Jewish imprint of Lerner Publishing, was 1400 words (don’t worry, it got slashed).

There was no other way to write about Golda than in first person, because her voice was so strong. I had many other picture book drafts, but I knew I had something special with Golda. It all began when I was attending two weeks of retreat at the Highlights Foundation. Between the two weeks I had to attend an event at the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island. I perused the shelves at the Highlights farmhouse and saw Golda’s autobiography, My Life (which I learned recently she didn’t write). Over the weekend, I read it and found a snippet about how as a child, Golda staged a fundraising event in Milwaukee, where she and her family had settled as immigrants from Russia, to buy schoolbooks for classmates. She mentioned a newspaper article had appeared about the event. Back home, I contacted the Jewish Historical Society of Milwaukee and the archivist knew exactly which article I was talking about. He sent it to me.

I wrote the draft on a Saturday night. Initially, I wrote it in third person, but that didn’t seem quite right. When I changed to first, the voice and story fell into place. I interpreted a true event but had to fill in the gaps to present the problem Golda and her friends faced. I invented dialogue. But the event itself was true and documented.

Goldie Takes a Stand (2)

I drafted the story in October 2011. I took it to workshops. I submitted the manuscript to Kar-Ben the following April and received an offer in June 2012. The book was published in August 2014.

I had been researching the story of the MS St. Louis since 2010, when I interviewed eight survivors of the ill-fated voyage. In 1939, this ship of nearly 1,000 German-Jewish refugees left Germany for safe haven from Nazism in Cuba. But when it arrived there, the passengers weren’t allowed to disembark. Denied refuge, the ship roamed the Atlantic until a philanthropic organization negotiated landing in Antwerp and distribution of the passengers to England, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

liesl-frontSmall

One of the women I interviewed, Liesl Joseph Loeb, was the daughter of the head of the passenger committee. I wrote a middle-grade narrative, but the story was difficult to tell, because so much happened that children on board wouldn’t have known about. Then it dawned on me to focus on Liesl in a picture book. That became Liesl’s Ocean Rescue, coming out very soon from Gihon River Press, a specialized Holocaust publisher. Again, I took dramatic license with Liesl’s story, but it is based on her interview and true events.

 What I learned is absolutely true:

  1. Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel quite right, change it.
  2. Make a weakness a strength. Some publishers rejected my manuscript, because it was in first person. I decided to make that my story’s strength.
  3. Keep trying. I graduated from VCFA in 2006. Eight years later my first children’s book appeared. I still have those YA historical novels under the bed. Maybe they’ll make it out some day, but for right now, my focus is on picture book biographies.
  4. Get your manuscript vetted. Even though my picture books are fictionalized, they are based on true events. I needed to find subject matter experts who could vet the manuscripts.
  5. Write a biography only if the subject wrote an autobiography. Since these two picture books, I’ve drafted a few biographies, now with my agent. But these stories are true—and are in first person.

guestbloggerbio2014

Barbara Krasner holds an M.B.A. in Marketing from Rutgers University and an M.F.A. in Writing for Children & Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). She is currently an adjunct professor in the English department at William Paterson University, teaching introductory and advanced creative writing, fiction writing, and children’s literature. GOLDIE TAKES A STAND: GOLDA MEIR’S FIRST CRUSADE, released in 2014 with Kar-Ben Publishers, is her debut picture book. LIESEL’S OCEAN RESCUE is due from Gihon River Press this December.

You can connect with her at BarbaraKrasner.com and follow her on Twitter @BarbaraKrasner.

prizedetails2014

Barbara is giving away a copy of GOLDIE TAKES A STAND!

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!


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1004. Cats Are Cats – Perfect Picture book Friday

Title: Cats Are Cats Written and illustrated by: Valeri Gorbachev Published By: Holiday House, 2014. Themes/Topics: cats, pets, tigers, fish Suitable for ages: 3-5 Opening:                                     … Continue reading

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1005. Celebrating Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing (1912-1954) was a mathematician and computer scientist, remembered for his revolutionary Automatic Computing Engine, on which the first personal computer was based, and his crucial role in breaking the ENIGMA code during the Second World War. He continues to be regarded as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century.

We live in an age that Turing both predicted and defined. His life and achievements are starting to be celebrated in popular culture, largely with the help of the newly released film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing and Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke. We’re proud to publish some of Turing’s own work in mathematics, computing, and artificial intelligence, as well as numerous explorations of his life and work. Use our interactive Enigma Machine below to learn more about Turing’s extraordinary achievements.

 

Image credits: (1) Bletchley Park Bombe by Antoine Taveneaux. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Alan Turing Aged 16, Unknown Artist. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. (3) Good question by Garrett Coakley. CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr

The post Celebrating Alan Turing appeared first on OUPblog.

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1006. My tweets

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1007. Supporting Boy Writers: An Interview with Ralph Fletcher

Have you ever banned a topic from your writing workshop? If you have, you’re not alone…but you may want to think twice about that policy.

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1008. Three Months of Book Giveaways! Kidlit Books of Adventure and Courage!

3 months of book giveaways

With the winter months upon us, I feel this is a great time for readers of all ages to snuggle in with a good book. I have been blessed with tons of amazing books titles for kids over these last few months and I want to get these books into the hands of young readers. SO, for the next three months Jump Into a Book will be hosting a book giveaway every Wednesday! Some giveaways will be a single title, some will be a “Book Bundle,” but all will be books that your readers will love and cherish. I think these books will also make great gifts as well! Here’s what we are giving away this week (NOTE: All of these books are physical books, not Kindle versions).

 

giveaway

BOOKS INCLUDED IN THE GIVEAWAY:

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

The_Three_Musketeers

First published in 1844, Alexandre Dumas’s swashbuckling epic chronicles the adventures of D’Artagnan, a gallant young nobleman who journeys to Paris in 1625 hoping to join the ranks of musketeers guarding Louis XIII. He soon finds himself fighting alongside three heroic comrades–Athos, Porthos, and Aramis–who seek to uphold the honor of the king by foiling the wicked plots of Cardinal Richelieu and the beautiful spy “Milady.”

Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

Captains Courageous

A pampered millionaire’s son tumbles overboard from a luxury liner and falls into good fortune, disguised in the form of a fishing boat. The gruff and hearty crew teach the young man to be worth his salt as they fish the waters off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Brimming with adventure and humor.

The Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew: You Wish

Benjamin Bartholomew

On his eleventh birthday, sad, orphaned Benjamin Bartholomew Piff accidentally adheres to all of the wishing rules—and, in wishing for the mother lode of limitless wishes, he unknowingly sets into a motion a chain of events that threatens to disrupt the balance between the magical realm of wishes and curses. Before long, Benjamin has been recruited by the Wishworks Factory director himself to fight the evil henchmen of the Curseworks Factory. In the process, Benjamin will reclaim his original wish—giving new credence to the old adage: “Be careful what you wish for . . . ”

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

ONE winner will receive a copy of each book The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kipling andThe Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew.  Giveaway begins November 14th and ends November 19th, 2014.

  • Prizing & samples  courtesy of Authors of the above books
  • Giveaway open to US addresses only
  • ONE lucky winner will win one copy of each of the above books.
  • Residents of USA only please.
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter
  • One entry per household.
  • Staff and family members of Audrey Press are not eligible.
  • Grand Prize winner has 48 hours to claim prize
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 20th

<a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Three Months of Book Giveaways! Kidlit Books of Adventure and Courage! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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1009. Poetry Friday with a review of The Arrow Finds its Mark

I am a big believer in recycling, but I have never thought about recycling words, reusing words that someone else has written and re-purposing them so that they become something new and different. This is exactly what the poems in today's book are; they are poems that were created using words that the poets found. It is fascinating to see the ways in which they created poetry out of slogans, advertisements, crossword clues and other pieces of found text.

The Arrow Finds its Mark: A book of Found Poems
The Arrow Finds its Mark: A book of Found PoemsEdited by Georgia Heard
Illustrated by Antoine Guiloppe
Poetry
For ages 8 to 11
Roaring Brook Press, 2012, 978-1-59643-665-7
For centuries poets have been inspired by nature’s beauty. They have been inspired by animals and plants. They have told stories and described people. The inspiration for the poems in this book came from an unusual source; they were found. The poets were invited to find their poems within a piece of writing or spoken piece. They saw what they were looking for written on a subway wall, in a book, on a receipt, on websites, advertisements and other sources. They then “refashioned” the words they found (without changing, adding, or rearranging them) to create something completely new.
   Lee Bennett Hopkins, Kai Dotlich, Jane Yolen and many others took on this challenge and created poems that are quite fascinating. In a poem called Pep Talk, Janet Wong seems to be encouraging us to keep going, to keep trying, telling us to “Keep Cool” and “See a brighter solution.” Readers will be surprised to learn that the poet found these words on the box of a detergent cleaner. Similarly, in his poem First, Lee Bennett Hopkins turned a Sprint newspaper advertisement into a poem about winning. In the poem we are told what it means to be first. The one who is first, “leads” and he or she “First takes us places / we have never / been before.”
   Jane Yolen found the words for her poem, Cross Words, within the clues for a newspaper crossword puzzle. What is interesting is that she has actually found phrases that sound angry or cross, phrases like “Do something!” “Shame!” and “Don’t ask me!”
   Joyce Sidman found the words for her poem in a Greenpeace calendar. She took the text in the calendar, changed the layout of the sentences and created Song of the Earth, a beautiful poem about our precious natural world.
   Readers will be surprised when they see what the sources for these poems were. Who knew that catalogs, photo captions, book titles and other everyday pieces of writing could create such splendid poems. Readers might even be tempted to try writing their own found poems.

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1010. Immigration and emigration: taking the long-term perspective for our better health

Immigration is an inflammatory matter and probably always has been. Immigrant groups, with few exceptions, have to endure the brickbats of prejudice of the recipient population. Emigration, by contrast, hardly troubles people — but the departure of one’s people is not a trifling matter. I wonder why these differential responses occur. It seems to me that humans are highly territorial and territory signifies resources and power. Immigration usually means sharing of resources, at least in the short-term, while emigration means more for those left behind and brings hope of acquiring even more from overseas in the long term. This might explain why those most needy of settled immigrant status — asylum seekers, the persecuted or denigrated, and the poor — are most resisted while those least in need of immigration status, such as the rich, are often welcomed.

Notwithstanding, consternation about migration it is rapidly leading to diverse, multiethnic and multicultural nations across the world. Many people dislike the changes this brings but it is hard to see what they are to do except change themselves. The forces for migration are strong, for example, globalization of trade and education, increasing inequalities in wealth and employment opportunities, and changing demography whereby rich economies are needing younger migrants to keep them functioning.

Whether you are a migrant (like me) or the host to migrants it is wise to remember that migration is a fundamental human behavior that is instrumental to the success of the human species. Without migration Homo sapiens would be confined to East Africa, and other species (or variants of humans — all now extinct) would be enjoying the bounties of other continents. Surely, migration will continue to bring many benefits to humanity in the future.

Harmony Day by DIAC images. CC BY 2.0 via  Wikimedia Commons
Harmony Day by DIAC images. CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

My special research interest is in the comparative health of migrants and their offspring, who together comprise ethnic (or racial, as preferred in some countries) minority groups. There is a remarkable variation in the pattern of diseases (and the factors that cause diseases) among migrant and ethnic groups and very often the minorities are faring better than the recipient populations. Probing these patterns scientifically, especially in the discipline of epidemiology, which describes and interprets the occurrence of disease in large populations, helps in understanding the causes of disease. There are opportunities to apply such learning to improve the health of the whole population; migrants, minorities and settled majority populations alike.

Let me share with you three observations from my research areas that help illustrate this point, one concerns heart disease and diabetes, another colorectal cancer, and the third smoking in pregnancy. Coronary heart disease (CHD) and its major co-disease type 2 diabetes (DM2) have been studied intensively but still some mysteries remain. The white Scottish people are especially notorious for their tendency to CHD. Our studies in Scotland have shown that the recently settled Pakistani origin population has much higher CHD rates than white Scottish people. Amazingly, the recently settled Chinese origin population has much lower rates of CHD than the white Scottish people. These intriguing observations raise both scientific questions and give pointers to public health. If we could all enjoy the CHD rates of the Chinese in Scotland the public’s health would be hugely improved.

Intriguingly, although colorectal cancer, heart disease and diabetes share risk factors (especially high fat, low fibre diet) we found that Pakistani people in Scotland had much lower risks than the white Scottish Group. This makes us re-think what we know about the causes of this cancer. In our scientific paper we put forward the idea that Pakistani people may be protected by their comparatively low consumption of processed meats (fresh meat is commonly eaten).

Might the high risk of CHD in Pakistani populations in Scotland be a result of heavier tobacco use? The evidence shows that while the smoking prevalence in Pakistani men is about the same as in white men, the prevalence in Pakistani women is very low. Smoking in white Scottish woman, even in pregnancy, is about 25% but it is close to nil in pregnant Pakistani women. This raises interesting questions about the cultural and environmental circumstances that maintain high or low use of tobacco in populations. These observations raise public health challenges of a high order — how can we maintain the cultures that lead to low tobacco use in some ethnic groups while altering the cultures that lead to high tobacco use in others?

The intermingling of migrants and settled populations creates new societies that provide innumerable opportunities for learning and advancement. While my examples are from the health arena, the same is true for other fields: education, entrepreneurship, social capital, crime, and child rearing to name a few. This historical perspective on human migration, evolution and advancement can benefit our health, as well as providing a foundation to contextualize the challenges and changes we face.

Heading image: People migrating to Italy on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea by Vito Manzari from Martina Franca (TA), Italy (Immigrati Lampedusa). CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Immigration and emigration: taking the long-term perspective for our better health appeared first on OUPblog.

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1011. Picture Book Month: Hooray for Hat by Brian Won

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

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About the Book: Elephant wakes up feeling grumpy. Until a delivery arrives at his door and a new hat cheers him up. Elephant wants to share his hat and along the way cheers up his friends.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I'm a sucker for retro-style illustrations. There's just something about them that make me feel happy. Hooray for Hat! features what could be called some retro-style illustrations and it fits the book perfectly.

Elephant is grumpy but his hat cheers him up. He visits his friends throughout the day and cheering them up with a hat of their own. The text is simple and the illustrations are bright and simple and not distracting making this a great storytime book. There's also a nice repetitive refrain of "Hooray for Hat" that kids can cheer along as the animals become happy.

This is a great story of how a simple act of kindness can make someone's day. This would be a great book to talk to kids about being kind, helping others, and paying it forward.

I've used this one in storytime a few times this year and each time I've read it it's been a bit hit. The kids catch on quickly to saying "hooray for hat" excitedly with each animal. And the joy the animals experience in sharing their gifts expands to the kids. The illustrations catch the expressions of the animals perfectly and the kids can see that and they get just as happy as each animal gets a new hat.

A fun picture book debut that is a great storytime addition.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from final copy borrowed from library

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1012. 3 (well,5 actually) of the Most Kindhearted People in my Life...and Poetry Friday!

.
Howdy, Campers!

Happy Almost-Thanksgiving and Happy Poetry Friday (original poem and link to Poetry Friday below)

To enter our latest giveaway, a copy of Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, check out Carmela's post.

I'm the third TeachingAuthor to chime in on our annual Three Weeks of Thanks-Giving--woo woo!


Carmela thanked three times three, topping it off with an original Thanku Haiku, Mary Ann succinctly thanked three writing-related groups and I'd like to thank...

I'd like to thank...

Oh, geez, gang.  Our host for Poetry Friday, Keri, just lost her grandfather.

It all comes down to love, doesn't it?

Not good looks. (When you're young your skin looks, well, young.  When you're old it doesn't.)

Not rushing around. ("Is there anything that you regret", I asked my nearly-92-year-old mother, recently. "Rushing," she said.)

Just goodness.

Here's who I'm grateful for this very minute (how can one edit it down to just three?!?):
  • my husband, Gary Wayland, who accompanies me deep into the jungles of my darkest thoughts and who always, always, always has my back;
  • my friend, "folksinger and songfighter" Ross Altman, who landed like an angel on the front steps of our house today, and walked twice around the block with me, listening as I poured out my troubles;
  • my three best friends--Elizabeth Forrest, who will move heaven and earth to help anyone anytime, anywhere; author and SCBWI 's regional events editor Rebecca Gold, who moved all the way across the country (how dare she?) but still wraps her long arm around me when I need her most--and I needed her this morning...and author Bruce Balan (all the way over in Thailand, for heaven's sake!) who immediately offered to jump on a plane and be by my side when my husband was ill.
So many.  And so many more, of course.

I'll bet you thought I was going to write a Thanku for one of them, right?  Surprise!

Here's my Thanku:

For the way you play
those black and whites; for the way
you brush my hair, Mom.


Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, check out Carmela's post. Good luck!

Poetry Friday's at Kerry's this week.  Thank you for hosting, Keri!  And Happy Thanksgiving to All!


With an open heart,
April Halprin Wayland, who deeply appreciates you reading all the way to the bottom.

Poem and photo (c) 2014 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

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1013. On World Diabetes Day, a guide to managing diabetes during the holidays

The International Diabetes Foundation has marked 14 November as World Diabetes Day, commemorating the date that Frederick Banting and his team first discovered insulin, and the link between it and diabetic symptoms.

As we approach the festive season, a time of year when indulgence and comfort are positively encouraged, keeping track of, or even thinking about blood glucose levels can become a difficult and annoying task. If good diabetic practice relies on building routines suited to the way your blood sugar levels change throughout the day, then the holidays can prove a big disruption to the task of keeping diabetes firmly in the background. With this in mind, take a look at this list of tips, facts, and advice taken from Diabetes by David Matthews, Niki Meston, Pam Dyson, Jenny Shaw, Laurie King, and Aparna Pal to help you stay in control and happy throughout the festive months:

  • Eat regularly. When big occasions cause your portion sizes to increase alarmingly, it’s tempting to skip or put off other meals. But eating large amounts at irregular intervals can cause blood glucose levels to rise significantly. For many, it’s better to snack throughout the day, including some starchy rather than sugary carbohydrates, promoting slow glucose release into the bloodstream.
  • Alternate drinks. Big dinners, big nights, and family days are likely to mean you consume more alcohol than normal. Alternating alcoholic drinks with diet drinks, soda, or mineral water can minimize their effect on blood glucose levels, so you can stay out, and keep up, without worrying.
  • Help your liver. Alcohol is metabolized by the liver, an organ that also helps release glucose into the bloodstream when levels start to drop. After drinking, the liver is busy processing alcohol, so cannot release glucose as effectively. This increases the risk of hypoglycaemia, especially in people who take insulin or sulphonylurea tablets. To combat this risk, try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach, or eat starchy foods when drinking. You may also need to snack before bed if you’re drinking in the evening.
  • Eat more, exercise more. Regular activity can have major benefits on your diabetes, making the insulin you produce or inject work more efficiently. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise will have positive effects, and are excellent ways of giving you a mental boost (though blood glucose levels should be monitored). Many symptoms of hypos are similar to those of exercise, such as hotness, sweating or an increased heart rate. Check blood glucose levels regularly and make necessary adjustments; fruit contains natural sugar and is a healthy way of quickly raising levels.
  • Go for your New Year’s resolution. Losing five to ten percent of your starting weight can have a positive impact on your diabetes, not to mention your overall health. Although exercise and eating well are of course promoted by all as the best way to lose weight, there is no medical consensus on one ideal way to achieve weight loss. The key lies in finding an effective approach that you can maintain. Remember that insulin can slow down weight loss, and if you are trying to lose weight, but find you’re having hypos, you’ll need to adjust your medication. Discuss this with your healthcare team.
  • Check Labels. Sodium isn’t synonymous with salt, but many food manufacturers often list sodium rather than salt content on food packaging. To convert a sodium figure into salt, you need to multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5. (For example: A large 12 inch cheese and tomato pizza provides 3.6 g of sodium. 3.6 multiplied by 2.5 is 9, so, the pizza contains approximately 9g of salt; one and a half times the recommended maximum of 6g.)
  • Don’t worry! Although a good routine is important, occasional lapses shouldn’t have a drastic effect on blood glucose levels (though this varies from person to person). Pick up a healthy routine in the New Year, when you’ll feel most motivated, and stick to it. The World Health Organization estimates over 200 million people will have type 2 diabetes by the year 2015, but (according to the international diabetes foundation) over 70% of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by adopting healthier lifestyles. Healthy living is not just a supplement, but part of the treatment of diabetes.

Heading image: Christmas Eve by Carl Larsson. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The post On World Diabetes Day, a guide to managing diabetes during the holidays appeared first on OUPblog.

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1014. Remembering the summer


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1015. Tasty Grasshopper, Intoned Frog.


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1016. A political post.

We need new leaders in Congress and the White House, I don’t see any in either arm of the government. We need leaders who lead according to conscience, not religion. Defending our country, Cutting spending, Not writing legislation for the people who paid to get them elected. Considering ALL the people not just the rich or the poor but all of us. There are leaders in other countries that see us a weak nation. We are NOT a weak nation and we need to stand up and prove it.

Denis.

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1017. Query Question: incorporating parts of the novel in the query

I've just started the query process (only seven sent so far), and of the two query letters I've composed, one incorporates dialogue from the novel to highlight plot point's. Is this okay to do, or frowned upon?

It's not so much whether it's ok or frowned upon, as whether it's effective.

And generally it's not.

Your query should focus on the precipitating incident of the plot: what changes for the main character? What's at stake with that change?

Lines of dialogue that are explanation of plot points sounds like bad dialogue.  There's a now classic blog post on Turkey City Lexicon that names this kind of dialogue "As you know Bob."  It's bad in a book, it's death in a query.

For help on figuring out how to get plot on the page, consult the QueryShark blog.

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1018. Supporting Boy Writers: An Interview with Ralph Fletcher

Have you ever banned a topic from your writing workshop? If you have, you’re not alone…but you may want to think twice about that policy.

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1019. TURNING PAGES: EUPHEMIA FAN: SPY GIRL by Cassandra Neyenesch

I received this book courtesy of Full Fathom Five Digital and while normally I prefer digital books which have paper counterparts, I made an exception this time, for Reasons. FFF Digital is an imprint of Full Fathom Five, the content creation... Read the rest of this post

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1020. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 14

I know many have been able to post with no problems, but if you are having issues–because I’ve received a few reports–please send me an e-mail at robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com, and we’ll work to get it resolved.

For today’s prompt, write a follow poem. In middle school, I remember running for student council and my campaign manager said something to the effect of, “Vote for Robby, because he’s a follower, not a leader.” First thing, yes, they called me Robby in middle school. Second thing, yes, I did not get elected. Third thing, yes, this story is completely personal and pointless. Don’t follow my example.

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Submit a Poem for a Chance at $1,000!

Writer’s Digest has extended the deadline to their Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards competition to November 21. As you may have guessed from the bold statement above, the winner will receive $1,000 cash!

The winning poem will also be published in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. And the winning poet will receive a copy of the 2015 Poet’s Market.

Even poets who don’t win can win, because there are prizes for 2nd through 25th place as well.

Click to learn more.

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Here’s my attempt at a Follow poem:

“Follow the Leader”

He talked the loudest and knew how
to snap his fingers, so of course
he was their leader, and they would

follow him everywhere, which was
usually nowhere, but it
didn’t matter: He said, “C’mere,”

and they’d come. He’d say, “Jump,” and they’d
ask, “How high?” Which was their downfall,
because when he stomped to the top

of the highest building in town
and tried to see if he could fly
all the others tumbled after.

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roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He believes in following your dreams, following your gut, and following one good line with another. And, then there’s Twitter. Speaking of which…

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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Find more poetic goodies here:

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1021. 'Grow'vember day 14 - more anatomy study

drawings of torso anatomy and structure
drawings of leg anatomy and structure

Day 14
Topic - torso structure and leg musculature

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1022. No inspiration? Sit down and draw!

So you have your sketchbook or artjournal with at all times, just in case. But then, you hear yourself think: "I have no inspiration." or "There's nothing to draw."

Well, think again. Or better yet: Sit down. And draw.

This drawing, for example, was done on a lazy evening when visiting family. Videos were playing, every now and then a music instrument was picked up and played on, we were laughing and chatting. I sat in the corner of the couch and simply drew my surroundings.
That's it. We need to stop thinking and just do it. Sit down. And draw.

With that attitude, you can create pages in your art journal that contain great memories that photos could never cover. In each page, you will learn new things and make progress. Some you will like more than others, but whatever the results are: your life is SO worth journaling about!

You can make it a habit, and in my online workshop "Awesome Art Journaling", I guide you through 4 weeks of drawing fun. You'll get tips and tricks, and a push to make awesome art every day.
It starts this Monday November 17. Warning: it's quite possible you will catch the sketchbug!
Join me for only $69 by clicking here.



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1023. Craft of Writing: Selling on Proposal, aka The Dreaded Synopsis by Gretchen McNeil

We are thrilled to welcome Gretchen McNeil to the blog today.  Gretchen is a woman of many talents being an opera singer and clown (what a lovely combination!) as well as an award-winning writer.  She's had novels optioned by Hollywood and has sold rights internationally.  And she's here to share with us today why the dreaded synopsis can actually be the professional writer's best friend!

Selling on Proposal, aka The Dreaded Synopsis by Gretchen McNeil


Of my seven contracted books, all but one – my debut Possess – have sold on proposal. Some were sold from a synopsis plus fifty or so pages, some were just from a synopsis. But notice the common thread...

Selling a novel on proposal was, for me, the ultimate writing goal. “You mean I don’t have to write the entire book first? You mean I can finish the book knowing it already has a home (and a paycheck) lined up? Sign me up!”

It’s a double-edged sword, of course. While you’ve managed to charm an editor and publisher with your synopsis and/or pages, you still have to deliver a final manuscript on or before a due date, and the pressure of scheduling your creativity can be crippling.

photo credit: evegaddy.net
But I’m not here to talk about that part. I’m here to address that dreaded “S” word – the synopsis.

Like it or not, this is something that almost every author – published or unpublished – is going to have to deal with until the end of time. Synopsizing a completed novel is hard enough, but crafting one for a book you haven’t written yet? How is that possible?

(I can actually hear you pantsers in the audience screaming out in abject terror. Don’t worry, hopefully this will be painless.)

I think the key for me in writing a proposal synopsis is remembering its purpose: it’s meant to be marketing material, a sales pitch to hook your audience. It’s not necessarily a roadmap for your finished manuscript, which I think is where a lot of people get hung up. Think of it like an elongated query letter as opposed to an intricate blow-by-blow of the book. There are certain important points you want to hit, while the details can be left for later.

What are those important points? For me, I aim to answer the following questions:

  1. Who is my main character?
  2. What does he/she want?
  3. What’s in his/her way?
  4. What does he/she do to get around that obstacle?
  5. What’s at stake if he/she fails?

The answer to Question #1 usually resides in the part of the book most people refer to as “the backstory” – elements that come out during the action, but aren’t necessarily enumerated at the beginning of the book. In a manuscript, that’s awesome. In a synopsis – which doesn’t have a lot of action – that’s problematic. But since this synopsis is a pitch, feel free to front load a paragraph or two of backstory to establish your character. It’s important to hook your target audience with this right off the bat.

Next you move into the First Act of your book (if you’re a proponent of Save the Cat! beat sheets, you know of what I speak): basically establishing your supporting cast and your setting, and explaining the conflict, i.e. Questions #2 and #5. What does your character want? What’s at stake if she fails? Establishing this last question up front is important because it sets the stakes immediately which, hopefully, gives an editor the desire to keep reading.

So far, so good. And notice we haven’t had to really dive into much of the action of this book yet?

Unfortunately, that’s about to change. Questions #3 and #4 are basically the impetuses (impeti?) for action in your novel, the answers that force your main character to make a decision and go on his/her journey. The bad news is that this does require some sense of what actually happens in the novel, which is a scary concept since you haven’t actually written it yet. The good news is that all you really need to aim for are tentpoles: Event A! Disaster B! Turnaround C! Yes, this does require gazing into the crystal ball and trying to see the finished product, but it also allows for some leeway when you actually write the book. The specifics of the tentpoles can change, as long as, structurally, they still exist.

photo credit: Susan Morris Shelfari
Last but not least, the climax. I think this is the scariest part of writing a proposal synopsis because so much of the ending of a book relies on what happens in the middle…which hasn’t been written yet. So how do you tackle the dénouement?

I tend to dance around it a little bit, reestablishing the stakes and the difficult decision the hero is going to need to make in order to get what he/she wants, and then telling the reader exactly what the result of the climax will be. Not exactly what the climax will be, but the result of it. For example, “Refusing to play by the rules, Katniss is able to beat the Capitol at their own game.”

Spoilers!

Notice I didn’t tell you how. Or that Peeta was involved. Just showed the outcome while teasing what may or may not happen in the climax. That’s how I get around, er, not really knowing what’s going to happen when I’m writing a proposal synopsis.

So there it is. It’s not particularly detailed but it’s a blueprint for the book I’m going to write, hopefully with enough voice and tone and plot and promise that an editor will love it. Just remember, “synopsis” isn’t a four-letter word. In the end, it can be your best friend.

About the Author:



Author of YA horror novels POSSESS, TEN, and 3:59, as well as the new mystery/suspense series Don't Get Mad, beginning in 2014 with GET EVEN and continuing in 2015 with GET DIRTY, all with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins. Gretchen also contributed an essay to the Dear Teen Me anthology from Zest Books.

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys, and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. She is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads






About the Book:


The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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1024. The Detailed Illustrations of Mattias Adolfsson

 

don__t_text_while_driving_by_mattiasa-d353skd

Not every Illustrator has the temperament required to create such detailed drawings like the one above, but Mattias Adolfsson seems to excel in this type of work.

Mattias Adolfsson Website >>

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1025. Review of the Day: The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Russell Brand

PiedPiper Review of the Day: The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Russell BrandRussell Brand’s Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin
By Russell Brand
Illustrated by Chris Riddell
Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster)
$19.99
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9189-0
On shelves now.

If there is a trend to be spotted amongst the celebrity children’s books being released these days then I think it boils down to a general perception on their part that books for kids aren’t subversive enough. This is a bit of a change of pace from the days when Madonna would go about claiming there weren’t any good books for kids out there. Celebrities are a bit savvier on that count, possibly because the sheer number of books they publish has leapt with every passing year. Now their focus has changed. Where once they pooh-poohed the classics, now they’re under the impression that in spite of masters like Shel Silverstein, Jon Scieszka, Tomi Ungerer, and the like, books for kids are just a little too sweet. Time to shake things up a bit. At least that’s the only reason I can think of to justify what Russell Brand has done here. When I heard that he had a new series out called Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales I admit that I was intrigued. Tricksters! What’s not to love there? Plus the man has talent and imagination. This kind of thing would really work. Add in the art of Chris Riddell and you might have something clever and worth reading on your shelf. I probably could have continued thinking in this manner if I hadn’t made the mistake of going so far as to actually read the book. Oh me oh my oh me oh my. In this, the first book in his series, Brand goes headlong in the wrong direction. Needlessly violent, humorlessly scatological, with really weird messages about disability and feminism thrown in for no particular reason, you can say lots of things about Brand’s foray in to the world of children. One thing you cannot say is that it’s actually for kids.

You think you know the story of The Pied Piper? Think again. In the town of Hamelin, the children are the future. Which is to say, the pretty children are the future. Kids like Sam, a child born with a withered leg, are ostracized and have to avoid being chased by the other kids’ zombie roadkill robots and such. The adults are little better with their misspent love of physical perfection and money. To this sordid town comes a hoard of nasty rats, each worse than the last and within a short amount of time they take over everything. As you might imagine, when a mysterious Piper arrives offering to do away with the hoard the townspeople agree immediately. He does but when he comes for his payment the town turns on him, rejecting his price. In response he takes away the kids, all but Sam, who is allowed to stay because he’s a different kind of kid. A good one.

Before any specific objections can be lobbed in the book’s general direction, I think the important thing to note from the start is that this isn’t actually a book for kids. It’s not published by a children’s book publisher (Atria Books is a division of Simon & Schuster, and does not generally do books for kids). Its author is not a children’s book author. And the writing is clearly for adults. When I read the review in Kirkus of this book I saw that it called it, “A smart, funny, iconoclastic take on an old classic,” and recommended it for kids between the ages of 8-12. Now look here. I like books that use high vocabularies and complex wordplay for children. You betcha. I also like subversive literature and titles that push the envelope. That’s not what this book is. In this book, Brand is basically just throwing out whatever comes to mind, hoping that it’ll stick. Here’s a description of the leader of the rats: “Even though they called themselves an anarcho-egalitarian rat collective (that means there’s no rules and no one’s in charge), in reality Casper was in charge . . . In his constant attendance were a pair of ratty twins – Gianna and Paul – who were both his wives. In anarcho-egalitarian rat-collectives, polygamy (more than one wife) is common. It’s not as common for one of the wives to be male but these rats were real badasses.” It’s not just the content but the tone of this. Brand is speaking directly to an adult audience. He does not appear to care one jot about children.

Of course when Brand decides to remember that he is writing a children’s book, that’s when he makes the story all about poop. Huge heaping helpfuls of it. There’s a desperation to his use of it, as if he doesn’t trust that a story about disgusting rats infesting a town is going to be interesting to kids unless it’s drowning in excrement as well. Now poop, when done well, is freakin’ hilarious. Whether we’re talking about Captain Underpants or The Qwikpick Adventure Society, poop rules. But as the authors of those books knew all too well, a little goes a long way. Fill your book with too much poop and it’s like writing a book filled with profanity. After very little time the shock of it just goes away and you’re left feeling a bit bored.

Other reasons that this ain’t a book for kids? Well, there’s the Mayor for one. Brand attempts to curtail criticism of his view of this woman by creating a fellow by the name of Sexist Bob. See, kids? Bob is sexist so obviously Brand can’t be. Not even when he has the Mayor crying every other minute, being described as a spinster who was mayor “a high-status job that made her feel better about her knees and lack of husband.” Then there’s the world’s weirdest message about disability. Our hero is Sam, the sole child left in the city of Hamelin after the children are whisked away. He’s the one described as having a “gammy leg all withered like a sparrow’s”. Which is fine and all, but once you get to the story’s end you find that Sam gets to have a happy ending where he’s grows up to become Hamelin’s mayor and his disability is pretty much just reduced a slight limp. So if you’re a good person, kiddos, that nasty physical problem you suffered from will go away. Better be good then. Sheesh.

Now Chris Riddell’s a funny case here. He’s a great artist, first and foremost. Always has been. Though I feel like he’s never been properly appreciated here in America, every book he’s done he puts his all into. Riddell doesn’t phone it in. So when he commits to a book like The Pied Piper then he commits, by gum. For better or for worse. Honestly, Brand must have thought he died and went to heaven when they handed him an artist willing to not only portray drops of blood dripping from a child’s pierced nipple but robot gore-dripping animal corpses and sheer amounts of poo. In this book he really got into his work and I began to wonder how much of a direct hand Brand had. Did Brand tell Riddell to make the Piper look like a member of the film version of A Clockwork Orange? No idea. Whatever the case, Riddell is as much to blame for some aspects of the book (the Mayor’s mascara comes to mind) as Brand, but he also is able to put in little moments of actual emotion. There’s a shot of Sam hugged by his mother early in the book that’s far and away one of the most touching little images you ever will see. Just the sweetest thing. Like a little light bobbing in the darkness.

The kicker is that beneath the lamentably long page count and gross-out factors, there might have been a book worth reading here. Playing the old “blame the editor” game is never fair, though. Editors of celebrity children’s books are, by and large, consigned there because they performed some act of carnage in a previous life and must now pay penance. No one goes into the business saying to themselves, “But what I’d really like to do is edit a picture book by Howard Stern’s wife about a fat white cat.” And so we cannot know how much input the editor of this book was allowed to give. Perhaps Brand took every note he was handed and hammered and sawed this book into its current state. Or maybe he was never handed a single suggestion and what he handed in is what we see here. No idea. But it’s difficult not to read the book and wonder at what might have been.

It’s more ambitious than your average celebrity children’s book, I’ll grant you that. And yet it feels like nothing so much as a mash-up of Roald Dahl and Andy Griffiths for adults. Lacking is the kid-appeal, the tight editing, and the reason why we the readers should really care. Our hero Sam is the hero because he’s essentially passive and doesn’t much act or react to the events going on in the tale. The Piper is there to teach a town a lesson, does so, and the story’s over. Brand would rather luxuriate in nasty kids, adults, and rats then take all that much time with his rare decent characters. As a result, it’s a book that might have been quite interesting and could even have been for actual children but in the end, isn’t. Here’s hoping Mr. Brand’s future forays in storytelling don’t forget who the true audience really is.

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