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<<August 2015>>
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1. Instagram

Vintage sewing table makeover
So as you know I haven't been posting as often lately, and I have missed it. From time to time people mention they miss my posts at craft shows and I'm always very appreciative that people are interested in what I'm up to when there's just so much out there these days.
Mini deer - pattern from Tilda's Fairytale Wonderland by Tone Finnanger  
So lately I've been posting on Instagram as "needlebook" and I'm really enjoying it. This post is a peek at what I've been posting there. I find it makes a journal of my projects and gives me a sense of what I've accomplished which I really like.
"Cradle Me" blanket - on Ravelry
I always have a giant "to do" list of craft and decor-type projects and knowing I'm going to post it once it's done also motivates me to stop leaving projects half-finished. I really thought that blanket (above) was never going to get done...
Clover Make Up bag - pattern by Michelle Patterns
I also find it's easier to keep up with what everyone else is up to as well, and it's very inspiring to see what people are up to. So many new craft projects are on my list now!
Did you miss Francis?
If you're not into Instagram, I do post most of the same pics on Flickr, and I'm certainly not saying good-bye to my blog or anything like that. Anyway, back to that list...

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2. Homeschooling: Answering Your Questions (Part Two)

by Sally Matheny

Homeschooling: Answering Your Questions
Almost 2 million students were homeschooled in the United States during 2002-2003.*

Home education has constantly grown over the last two decades. The growth rate is 7% to 15% per year, according to Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute (Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling).

Are you considering homeschooling?

After sixteen years of homeschooling, I meet a great deal of people who have concerns. Many people long to teach their children (and even grandchildren) at home but they have fears of inadequacy.

 I want to encourage you today by answering more of your questions and providing you with a list of helpful resources.
Read more »

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3. Agents Panel: Barry Goldblatt and Brenda Bowen

Barry Goldblatt is an agent with Barry Goldblatt Literary.

He's been an agent for 15 years, representing everything but nonfiction (although he's sold it). His client list includes Holly Black, Libba Bray, Lauren Myracle, Jo Knowles. He also represents writers of adult work (mostly science fiction), and this is evolving.

He recently signed a historical fiction graphic novel hybrid. "It was really cool and really exciting."

Brenda Bowen is an agent with Greenburger Associates, one of the oldest agencies in America. Her list has everything from PBs to YA, poetry, and some adult books (largely illustrated ones). Her clients included Rosemary Wells, Chris Raschka, Mike Curato, Hilary Knight, Samantha Berger, Jo Napoli, Julianne Moore and Nathan Lane (when they write for kids).

She used to be a children's book editor for more than 25 years, and writes books of her own as well—she's written 40 books for kids, and her first adult novel, Enchanted August, came out in June.

What kind of agent are you? 

Barry Goldblatt: Becoming an editorial agent has become part of the territory. Shining something up for editors is part of the job, but he doesn't try to get things perfect because it wants editors to be able to "get their hands dirty." He considers his clients friends, he offers counseling, and he wants to be able to celebrate with his clients.

Brenda Bowen: She's also an editorial agent and does like to do therapy and handholding for clients. The Greenburger agency has lots of support for writers from rights specialists too.

What kind of editorial work do you do? 

Barry Goldblatt: He isn't doing line edits and grammar. He knows every editor he works with is getting 30 more manuscripts that day. The competition is immense. He wants to make sure what he's sending is the best-looking thing it can be—and then they'll want to work on it and make it even better.

Brenda Bowen: An artist often comes to an agent and says, "I'm thinking of doing this style for the book." She talks to the artist about those choices. She also helps, when there are 20 manuscripts to consider, which one to pursue first.

What's a realistic expectation for a client, in terms of time and energy from an agent? 

Brenda Bowen: She'll take a 10 PM call at home from a client. "Not that you should call them from home, but if it truly is a crisis ... I want to talk to them." The expectation is that your agent is really there for you.

Barry Goldblatt: Agenting isn't a 9 to 5 job. He works all the time on behalf of his clients.

What do you look for in a client?

Barry Goldblatt: New writers often misunderstand the power balance in the equation. "When you sign with an agent, they work for you." They give advice and you're free not to take it (but if you don't often, maybe it's not a good match). He gives his clients advice about their career—they get to choose.

Barry's clients once had a mini revolt. By offering them representation, in his head, he was telling them they were the best people. But when he gave feedback early on, he had to learn to reassure his clients. "They need to hear that!" He assumed his clients knew he loved them, but they didn't.

Brenda Bowen: It's a matter of taste. When she opens a query letter, she asks herself if she wants to have lunch with that person. She's a good agent for people she clicks with.

What's the climate in the industry at the moment? What is changing? 

Brenda Bowen: There are a lot of consolidations, but there are still publishers, and publishers have adjusted to the ebook crisis. "We know that an adult ebook is taking over the space that the mass market paperback took." Since 2009-2010, a new normal has been established, so publishing has loosened the reins. They're still selective and want big books, but everyone wants to find that wonderful new thing and take risks. There is also more space for YA crossover. Things are unpredictable, but everyone still wants to capitalize on new opportunities.

Barry Goldblatt: The one negative he's seen that isn't quite receding is the focus in-house on deciding books they can get for $25,000 aren't worth publishing. He wishes editors had the space to buy special books that aren't as obvious of money-makers. "A lot of books are not six figure deals. It doesn't mean they're not fantastic books."

What's your dream manuscript? 

Barry Goldblatt: Once he participated in #MSWL (manuscript wish list chat on Twitter). He regretted it. His most recent sale wasn't something he was looking for, but it was so fantastic. "I couldn't have described this book before I got it if I tried."

The hardest thing is that you can get jaded and think nothing will knock you off your seat. But that's what he hopes for every day.

Brenda Bowen: She fell in love with Laurent Linn's illustrated novel, and even though she was too busy to take anything new on, she couldn't not take it on. She wants a book that "slaps you in the face."

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4. The Agents' Panel Gets Underway!

Lin Oliver moderates the agents' panel, with (from left), Jodi Reamer of Writers House, Alexandra Penfold of Upstart Crow Literary, Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency, Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary, Brenda Bowen of Greenburger Associates and Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency.

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5. My mom’s letters

My mom's letters about me

My mom was something like a mommy-blogger, in 1973. From the time I was two to two-and-a-half, she wrote these astoundingly detailed letters about our lives and me and Miami, typed them up in quintuplicate, and mailed them to the whole family. I have multiple copies of some of them.

They’re an amazing resource for my book, and they prove, as she’s always claimed and I’ve doubted, that I was talking in complete sentences when I turned two. Apparently I was also always concerned with remembering everything that happened.

On the one hand the letters make me happy, because I can verrrry hazily remember some of what she describes, and because they’re so full of pride and love, but they also make me sad, because I can see how lonely she was.

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6. Creating Classroom Environments: Making Space for Partnerships

Our blog series kicks off with a post on creating space in your classroom to get writing partnerships up and running right away.

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7. A Tourist in Chicago by Margot Justes

My recent trip to Chicago was to a wedding at the historical Warwick Allerton Hotel.
It reminded me of the rich and wondrous architectural history in Chicago.

Not only is the hotel an historical treasure, but the management took great care in providing an elegant venue, delicious food and wonderful service. The wedding was truly a memorable occasion.

The hotel was designated “an official Chicago Landmark” by Mayor Richard Daley in June 1998. Built in 1922, and opened in 1924, it is a Northern Italian Renaissance Revival design and it is opulent and rich with wonderful windows, marble floors, and with incredible views of the city from the reception ballroom.  It was the first 25-story skyscraper built on North Michigan Avenue.

The Tip-Top-Tap lounge that served as host to Don McNeill’s nationally broadcast “Breakfast Club” was closed in 1961, but the neon sign remains and is an iconic reminder of the rich history of the building.

If your taste runs to architecture, you won’t be disappointed, there are many more fantastic buildings. A simple walk along Michigan Avenue, will get you the Wrigley Building, and the Chicago Tribune; if you look closely at the Tribune building, you’ll see stones imbedded from many of the world’s greatest treasures, all are labeled from point of origin.  Even out latest mega Trump Tower, has the perfect location, overlooking the Chicago River, and can be clearly seen from the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, and from the Allerton Hotel.

This is the city where Mies van der Rohe, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wight to name just a few built a few treasures.

The city has been called the windy city most probably because Chicago was trying to get the 1893 World Exposition, and as an ad campaign, the lake breeze was heralded as a city wonder. The more popular version is due to the politicians, and the hot air that continuously blows from City Hall. Either way, the name stuck. I personally prefer the more recent political version.

Chicago is multi cultural, vibrant, and has stunning architecture. Not a bad start to a city that is filled to the brim with world renown museums, an abundance of fine dining establishments, local eateries, a world renown orchestra, and theater productions that rival New York. I love this city, and play tourist whenever time allows.

My favorite museum is the Art Institute, beautifully situated on Michigan Ave-the Grand Avenue-that gives Fifth Avenue, and the Champs Elysees, a run for their money. The wide sidewalks are lined with pots of flowers, trees and miniature gardens, decorated for every season. Along with occasional sculptures, from cows to couches. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, but always fun to see.

There are many museums, but only a few have the envied lake shore location; the Field Museum, the Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium are aligned in the ‘museum complex’ in close proximity, and are a must see. All this can be yours, within walking distance , if you really like to walk, or a short bus, taxi, car, or trolley ride.

If your taste runs to modern art, just a bit off Michigan Avenue is the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Don’t forget State Street, and the loop area that has been greatly revitalized, visit the Macy’s store, that once was the great Marshall Field’s, and to me always will be.

There is the Buckingham Fountain, Millennium Park, an architectural gem, and the over used word  world renowned. The building costs of Millennium Park went way over budget, but the park has become a main tourist attraction. We have Grant Park, and an amazing lakefront, and bicycle paths everywhere you turn. Not to mention ethnic food galore; I don’t think there is an ethnic food you can think of that you won’t find in Chicago.

On the south side of the city we have the Oriental Museum, and the interactive Science and Industry Museum. This city has it all, and at a slower, more relaxed pace than New York.

I listed just a few of the main central tourist attractions, that by no means limits the rich cultural history that abounds in many neighborhoods in this city. This is just a brief glimpse of what Chicago has to offer.

I haven’t even mentioned the fantastic food choices.

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
Blood Art
Hearts and Daggers

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8. Ten Playful Penguins

Board Book: Ten Playful Penguins. Emily Ford. Illustrated by Russell Julian. 2015. [October] Scholastic. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Ten playful penguins, living in the zoo. They've had their lunch, and now they're off to find something to do.

Premise/plot: The penguins "disappear" one by one as they find "something" to do. The "something" almost always involves meeting and playing with another zoo animal. The book counts backward from ten to one with plenty of rhyme, of course.

My thoughts: Do I have an opinion? I'm not sure I do. It is what it is. A simple counting--or counting backward--concept book for young children starring penguins, monkeys, hippos, bears, pandas, parrots, elephants, etc. If your little one loves animals or zoo animals--especially penguins--this one is a cute and satisfactory enough read.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Dan as Daenerys Targaryen, he is a fan of GoT
Lin says it is a wonderfully satisfying and emotional moment to introduce Dan Santat and I agree, he's the super best.

Dan came here in 2001, this Summer Conference is the first SCBWI conference he ever attended. He worried it was too expensive, but that worry was soon put to rest when his portfolio got noticed by editor Arthur Levine, and because of attending the conference,Dan got his first book contract.

In the many years of attending SCBWI events and conferences, Dan's noticed success stories of authors and illustrators, and some stories of people who are still finding there way. Dan says:

Your time will come, it's not a race to the top of the mountain, everyone finds their time. 

One way to ease your trek on the road to publication is to improve your taste: Do you know if you have good taste? Do you know if what you're writing is good? Dan reads us this Ira Glass quote:

Dan lists some of the stories and genres he likes, and thinks improving your work and taste is due to understanding why you like things, don't censor or bias yourself. Dan likes:

Batman and Akira comics. Movies and TV shows like Moneyball, Game of Thrones, Lost, and Breaking Bad. Podcasts like This American Life and Serial. From all of these he is learning story style and technique, observing different points of view. Immerse yourself in life and culture, take these references, says Dan, and come up with a unique spin on things.

You must do a critical review of your work. Dan reads us some 1 star and 5 star Goodreads reviews for Where the Wild Things Are (which has an overall rating of 4.2, by the way). Compare your opinions with others, there are crazy reviewers and there are good reviewers, the good reviews are useful pieces of critical information that can make your work better.

Study the fundamentals, but don't be rigid.

Learn by imitation, but don't become a clone. In art school, Dan copied Wyeth paintings in class because when you paint the strokes a master painter painted, your hands learn what your head doesn't quite understand yet. But be sure to make your art your own, Dan says, try to make work that is original to yourself once you begin to trust your inner instincts.

The exploration comes by doing: You have to make a lot of lousy paintings before you find one you want to put in your portfolio. Dan was working a full-time job when he decided he wanted to be published, so he started working from 10 pm to 3 am on his illustration work and after weeks and weeks of working like this and honing his craft, he'd made himself an illustration portfolio he could be proud of.

Form follows function. Dan shows us how good stories have things happening for a reason, you see it in everything from Back to the Future to his very own Beekle.

A few of Dan's final thoughts: Do what you love, and the work will find you. Don't think about the money, think about the craft, and working on your craft is the only way to improve. And don't give up!

Thanks, Danders!!!

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10. Printable: Change Your World



"Change Your Thoughts and you'll Change Your World" -- Buddha

I've always believed that it's we decide our own futures. Our thoughts dictate our attitudes, choices, interests, and that in turn decides our lives and the paths we choose to take upon our journeys through it. It just makes complete sense to me.

In the last couple of years I've been reading books and watching videos by certain spiritually and/or positively motivated individuals, some of whom have become my mentors as far as this approach to life is concerned. I'm going to share a few of these in case anyone else out there is interested, so just click on the links below ...

Apart from all this refreshing philosophising and thought meandering, I've been at work on my new project whenever I have the time, and will be launching a new blog all about it soon. Meanwhile, have been sketching more elephants, and here they are:





If you've been following me on my facebook page you'll have seen some of these already, and I'll keep posting more there as soon as they sneak themselves into the sketchbook.



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11. The LGBTQ Q&A

Joining me and legendary editor Emma Dryden, best-Selling author Ellen Hopkins, art director and debut YA author Laurent Linn, and agent Danielle Smith, about 30 writers and illustrators (including conference attendee and Sid Fleischman and Lambda Literary Award-winning author Bill Konigsberg!) gathered in a large circle to share our questions about and discuss our projects that include Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning characters and themes.

We started out in a circle

As always, it was a safe space with lots of shared encouragement and mutual support.

Some highlights:

"Write bravely because it's going to matter to somebody. ...We have kids who need these books. Still!"
- Ellen Hopkins

"There is a need and a want" for these books with LGBTQ characters and themes, in publishing houses, "and readers who need these books."
- Laurent Linn

"The biggest tool against generalization is characterization. ...We are all more than our gender identification... Gender is not enough. Sexuality is not enough. Go deeper..."
- Arthur A. Levine

on why Ellen's books are successful... "These books are dealing with how kids would really feel in these situations. But if it's not on the page, kids are going to think you're lying to them."

"The question is not what hasn't been done, but what haven't I done?"
- Bill Konigsberg

Both Arthur and Danielle spoke of how in today's publishing environment, having LGBTQ characters and themes are something they cite as a positive about a project, something that helps them in selling/publishing a project.

And spent time meeting and greeting each other

And we'll let Arthur have the final word for this post:

"There's never been a more receptive environment for publishing LGBTQ characters and issues."
- Arthur A. Levine

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12. Jenny Bent: The Agents' Panel

Jenny Bent founded The Bent Agency in 2009; the agency now has nine agents, offices in New York City and London, and a strong focus on international rights. Her authors include SE Green, Tera Lynn Childs, AG Howard, and Lynn Weingarten. She is actively looking for new clients across all categories of middle grade and young adult. Her website is www.thebentagency.com and you can find her on Twitter @jennybent.

Highlights of Jenny's comments:

She starts out with mentioning some of her recent debut author sales, saying she has a lot of debut authors.

For YA she's looking for edgy, different, manuscripts that could almost be adult books, that push the envelope.

Calling herself "highly editorial," Jenny speaks of working with her clients on "at least two or three drafts before sending everything out."

As publishers are consolidating, she sees herself as "ever more of a protector," holding onto rights for her authors, and then being active about selling them. (Rights outside the primary U.S. deal like audio, foreign and film.)

"My big thing as an agent is honesty." Jenny explains her clients know when she praises their work that she's being real about it because when things aren't working she tells them about it. "What I'm looking for in a client is someone who will be honest back with me... Respect and honesty on both sides."

There's lots more discussion, about consolidation, social media, and even how her agency posts what they're looking for, once a month on their blog.

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13. Haven't I seen you someplace before? More curled up girls dressed in white

Spotted The Magpies as a Kindle special. It's a Thomas & Mercer (AKA Amazon) book. There covers always seem perfectly adequeate, but nothing more than that.

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14. All Time Highest CBO Views By Country

All time CBO hits are interesting!

United States
United Kingdom

Even if you are in a country that does not appear on this list -it's merely the highest number of views as it does not include many other countries CBO gets daily views from -including our Two Friends in Antarctica- I still write THANK YOU.

Apart from the UK, for obvious reasons, most of these countries I'm gladly work for in comics!

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15. 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Closed

Hi Everyone,

Sorry but the 1st 5 Pages Workshop is now closed. Once again, we filled up in a minute! I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month! We open the first Saturday in September.


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16. जानवर और हम

जानवर और हम

घर के सामने से एक महिला बच्चों के साथ जा रही थी. बच्चे आपस मे लड रहे थे और महिला बोल रही थी क्या कुत्ते बिल्ली की तरह लडते रहते हो…मैं सोचने लगी कि हम लोग जानवरों  का नाम हम कितनी सहजता से ले लेते हैं.

कुछ दिन पहले एक जानकार बता रही थी कि उसकी बेटी तो एकदम गाय है गाय.  वो तो उसकी सास ही नागिन की तरह फुंकारती रह्ती है. वही मेघा अपने छोटे भाई को बंदर की उपाधि दे रखी है. मनुज ने बताया  जब वो  बाल कटवाने गया तो नाई ने कहा कि क्या रीछ की तरह बाल बढा रखे हैं. अक्सर सुनने में यह भी आता है कि फलां आदमी तो बैल की तरह  सारा दिन चरता ही रहता है या क्या खा खा कर हाथी बने जा रहा है.

विजय का कहना है कि उसका मालिक खुद तो सारा दिन भौकते रहता है और उससे गधे की तरह काम करवाता रहता है. आफिस मे कुछ लोग तो गिरगिट की तरह रंग बदलने मे माहिर होते हैं तो वही  कुछ लोग किसी के आगे शेर बन जाते हैं तो कोई किसी के सामने भीगी बिल्ली. मिताली भी किसी से पीछे नही है उसका मानना है कि उसकी आखे हिरणी की तरह है. निशा अपनी जेठानी के लिए कहती है कि वो तो लोमडी की तरह चालाक है और जेठ बिच्छु जैसा !!! इतना ही नही. किसी को किसी की नजर  चील जैसी  लगती है तो यह कहने से भी कोई पीछे नही हटता कि  तुम्हारी अक्ल घास चरने गई है क्या?? बात बात पर कछुए और खरगोश का उदाहरण देना आम बात है!! इसके इलावा सुअर, उल्लू, मुर्गा आदि नाम का इस्तेमाल भी अक्सर हमारे द्वारा होता रहता है.

तो देखा आपने जानवरो की आड मे हम लोग क्या क्या नही बोल जाते.  इतना ही नही अब बात को ज्यादा क्या बढाना  वैसे आप खुद ही समझदार हैं कुछ लोग तो बात बात में जानवरो के बच्चो को भी बीच मे ले आते हैं. हे भगवान !!! … कैसी भेडचाल है ये !!! वैसे आप तो ऐसे नही होंगें है  ना !!!

जानवर और हम

The post जानवर और हम appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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17. Alexandra Penfold: Agents' Panel

Alexandra Penfold is an agent with Upstart Crow Literary and is building her list, representing very young picture books up to YA (some select adult).  She is also the author a cookbook NEW YORK a la CART: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks as well as three forthcoming pictures books.

In terms of Alexandra's client list, different clients have different needs so what she does depends on those needs. When she takes on a client, she thinks of it as taking on a life: in good times and bad.

When Alexandra is looking to take on a client it's important to her to have a conversation with them about their career and what they want. It's a relationship and there is a certain chemistry involved, and there must be trust.

There are different paths to sales for authors. Some who have made the right connections with the school and library market might see their sales grow over time. One example is POP by Meghan McCarthy. It didn't explode out of the gate but it keeps being added to state lists and purchased again and again by libraries. It had a slower build and is still doing well.

This is a great community. On social media be authentic and talk about the things you love, including books. Don't use it to only say, "Buy my book!"

When Alexandra reads something and there is an emotional response to it, that's what she is looking for. That is what she wants to open. One example is when she wrote Jessixa Bagley's submitted manuscript BOATS FOR PAPA, she cried.

A brief piece of career advice:
Be a reader. If you have a rich reading life, you will have a rich writing life.

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18. More Characters For My Table AT SLC Comic Con

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19. Michelle Knudsen: Other Words Than These - Building Your Fantasy Universe

Michelle Knudsen is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 40 books for young readers. She won the 2015 Sid Fleischman Award for Humor for her YA novel Evil Librarian, and she talked to us about world building.

She started with a definition: World building is the physical world and the cultural world your characters inhabit.

All kinds of novels require world building. Fantasy and speculative fiction have other kinds of requirements, because you can't pre-suppose knowledge on the part of your reader. "Nothing can be taken for granted. You need to tell your readers everything they need to know about the world in which it takes place."

"The world of your fantasy story is just as important as your characters are."

As a young reader, she loved the Xanth books by Piers Anthony. In this world, everyone was born with a magical talent—it could range from a tiny skill like projecting a color on a wall to the ability to transform people, animals, and plants into other things. "As a young reader, I wanted desperately to go there. Everything about the world was literally magical."

World building also helps readers believe the things that happen in your world. The belief in the viability of the plot if affected by the viability of the setting (an idea she learned from the poet Julie Larios). Here's a sampling of the craft tips she shared with us.

Effective world building requires consideration of these five interconnected areas:

  1. Physical environment
  2. Inhabitants
  3. Social structure
  4. History
  5. Beliefs
Physical environment: Patricia Wrede has a huge list of world-building questions (available online). A few of them: 
  • Are the laws of nature and physics the same in this world? 
  • How does magic fit in?
  • How do magic beasts fit in? 
  • Is it like an alternate earth? 
These elements affect the way your characters live, what they wear, and how they travel. 

Inhabitants: This includes main characters and all types of people and creatures who live in your world. 

Social structure: This includes governments, relationships between individuals, neighboring discussions, languages. Who makes the laws? Can they move about freely? 

History: The recent and long-term history of the world that may be relevant to your story. Michelle starts thinking about this once she knows her characters and what's going to happen, and she asks what happened in the past that might have made a character do something. It's possible that little of this history will appear in the story, but having the knowledge in the back of your head will enrich the story. 

Beliefs: These include religious and supernatural (and possibly magic). Some decisions in this section depend on decisions made in other areas. So, if a religious figure rules, you need to know what the beliefs are and what happens to people who don't believe. 

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20. SCENES FROM LIFE - A SHORT PLAYETTE. At the coffee shop

SCENE: Coffee shop
AT RISE: Two friends discuss a theatre performance they have just seen
(perusing menu)
Decisions…decisions… I just started seeing a dietician but I absolutely adore their chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake… One more time couldn’t hurt.
Given that it’s past eight o’clock and the worst time for weight gain, I, on the other hand, will stick to my usual expresso
You’re so holy-holy, perfect, human being
Jealousy is futile. It’s my genes. Everyone in my family is thin, going back generations
You do realize I could eat whatever I wanted without guilt but I don’t, because I respect my body
Hey! Me too! My body tells me regularly, “feed me chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake’ and I’ll make you feel real good!”
Anywaaay…So what did you think of the show?
Well…it had its moments
You didn’t like it, I take it?
I never said that
What are you saying?
It had its moments

Which means?
Kind of dragged in parts
I dunno. Made me laugh – a lot
That’s ‘cause you’re easily amused
Is it necessary to insult me, just because you consider yourself (makes quotation marks with her fingers) “a playwright”?
It’s the words and how they’re put together that interest me
Seemed like one great show, overall, in my eyes
You didn’t find that the first act seemed to never end?
I go to the theatre to be entertained. Period. I don’t agonize over whether the first act is better than the second because really, I don’t care! If the actors can provide a couple of hours of escapism, then they’ve done their job
We obviously view the entertainment through different eyes. I’m interested in the flow of the dialogue…the inter-action of the performers…things of interest to a person who writes plays -
- remind me how many of your plays have been produced –
So? What does that have to do with anything? It’s not for lack of trying. Have you any idea how many playwrights are out there all over the planet, hoping that someone will share them with the world? Gazillions I can tell you – including me! I mean, well known one’s, too! One day – one sweet day – someone, somewhere will read one of my plays and say, “this is the winner we’ve been waiting for!” One day, you and I, will sit here as we do after a night at the theatre, and discuss the merits of one of my plays. You’ll tell me how witty the dialogue was and how it made you laugh and how lucky that our friendship has maintained over the years…
So, are we ordering or what?
I’m thinking here perhaps it is too late for something heavy like the chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake
Good idea - think healthy
(waitress approaches to take order)
 (cont’d.)We’ll have two expresso coffees, please…
…hang on…
I thought you decided against the cake
The cake is on the heavy side but a small butter pecan muffin wouldn’t even register on the scale.  Now about the play…the acting was adequate but then they didn't have much to work with...

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21. 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Open!

Our August workshop is now open! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it closes here, on Adventures in YA Publishing, and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have Lori Goldstein  as our author mentor, and in addition to being a talented writer and a very nice person, Lori is an alum of the workshop! Our agent mentor is the fabulous Caitie Flum.

And remember, we have a new format! The workshop is now four weeks, so the participants have the opportunity to get feedback on a pitch, and Caitie will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter of the manuscript!

August Guest Mentor – Lori Goldstein 

Lori was born into an Italian-Irish family and raised in a small town on the New Jersey shore. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Lehigh University and worked as a writer, editor, and graphic designer before becoming a full-time author. She currently lives and writes outside of Boston. Lori is the author of the young adult contemporary fantasy series Becoming Jinn (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 21, 2015, Spring 2016). You can visit her online at www.lorigoldsteinbooks.com.


Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit. To the humans she lives among, she's just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she's learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny. Mentored by her mother and her Zar "sisters," Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn...and that her powers could endanger them all.

Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at Indie BoundAmazonBarnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf on Goodreads!

August Guest Agent – Caitie Flum

Caitie joined Liza Dawson Associates in July 2014 as assistant and audio rights manager. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2009 with a BA in English with a concentration in publishing studies. Caitie interned at Hachette Book Group and Writers House. She was an Editorial Assistant then Coordinator for Bookspan, where she worked on several clubs including the Book-of-the-Month Club, The Good Cook, and the Children's Book-of-the-Month Club. Caitie is looking for commercial and upmarket fiction with great characters and superb writing, especially historical fiction, mysteries/thrillers of all kinds, magical realism, and book club fiction. Caitie is also looking for Young Adult and New Adult projects, particularly romance, historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers, and contemporary books with diverse characters. In nonfiction, she is looking for memoirs that make people look at the world differently, narrative nonfiction that's impossible to put down, books on pop culture, theater, current events, women's issues, and humor.

So what are you waiting for? Send those pages!


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22. The Final EVER Posting On The UK Comics Scene And The Way Ahead

As it stands, in 2015, there is no British comics industry.  That is a fact and if you argue the opposite you are either just trying to argue for the sake of it or you have absolutely no idea of what is going on.

I am going to cover part of the problem by using a previous posting -a lot (a very large number in fact) have started reading CBO in recent weeks so will probably have missed this.

And if you are one of those who want to comment negatively or start an arguement don't bother.  As always your comment will be deleted as spam.


Just WHY Is No Businessman or Existing Publishing House Getting Involved With UK Comics?

We know that there is no comic industry in the UK. 

 With the exception of Cinebook The 9th Art, which specialises in publishing Franco-Belgian comic albums in the English language.  Future generations of UK kids will grow up on these albums but not, sadly, UK originated comics.

 above Chris Weston's The Spider artwork

I have had a couple of conversations with companies this week but it was the same thing "We simply do not publish comics.  We couldn't compete with Marvel" oh, and (incredibly!!) "You ought to contact the guy does a website called Comic Bits Online, he's always banging on about British comics".....he seemed taken aback when I said "That's me"   but added "Well, there you go then"

There I go then -what?!

I think the last person who knew the UK comics industry for almost 45 years retired in...2000?  A year later I was told in a letter regarding IPC and Fleetway-Egmont "How the mighty have fallen!"

The idea that "only the Americans can do super heroes" is ludicrous.  There is still this stupidity that exists in the UK.  Back when we did have a comics industry I was told by top management and even senior editors that "We don't get super heroes.  We just don't do them because they are an American thing" -when I rolled off a list of characters I was told "Oh, those are action or masked adventurers!"  So WTF are super heroes.

Below: British Super Soldier Captain Hurricane

I mean, The Spider, Gadget Man and Gimmick Kid, The Phantom Viking, Kelly's Eye, Rubberman, Tri-man, Steel Claw (costumed for a brief period in the late 1960s), General Jumbo, Billy The Cat, The Leopard From Lime Street, The Iron Fish, Danger Man, The Black Sapper, Spring Heeled Jack (take your pick!), King Cobra, Nick Jolly -even Captain Hurricane, a World War 2 commando was a kind of "super-soldier" -especially after his "raging furies"!

The list goes on and on and that is just from the former "Big Two" -the Scottish company whose name must ne'er be spoke" and Fleetway/Amalgamated Press/IPC.

Last year (I think it was up-dated) I wrote this post so I'm adding more to it.  It will be my ultimate piece on the subject.


....until next time.


You see, I never lied -"Never say 'Never Again!'" and I think this article helps emphasise things and once I get to my final comments it will all make sense.  Honest.


The Improbability Of The British Super Hero-

“Hmm. Don’t you understand?  Think about it –we have no skyscrapers!  How can you have American style super heroes in England?”

Those were the words of a Marvel UK editor (Dave White) back in the 1980s as I sat across from him having travelled from Bristol to London at his suggestion to discuss new projects.  About a month later a very senior Marvel UK editor responded in the same words but adding “That is why UK comics have never had super heroes.”

Firstly, as I pointed out to Dave White, we are the UK. Britain. You think of characters for a comic as being English you are excluding Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  Why?

My response to the senior editor is probably why things went a little “odd” work-wise.  My first response was “So, what exactly is Marvel UK publishing? And Power Comics (Odhams) before it? And…” I went on to rattle off a very, very long list of British super characters going back to the 1940s.  I think I ticked him off.  Really, he should have known better though, in one respect, he was right.

British comics never had super heroes.

Before you start thinking that I’m on new medications and answering “Yes” and “No” at the same time allow me to explain.

Tim (Kelly’s Eye) Kelly travelled the world and even in time and space at one point and was totally indestructible.  He was not a super hero.  Yes, he was what some called a "supernatural character" or "magic character" because of the mystic amulet.  And later on science fiction as he travelled in time.

Clem Macy, television news reporter had a costumed archer alter ego…The Black Archer.  He was not a super hero.

Cathy had amazing cat-like abilities and wore a costume.  She was not a super heroine.

William and Kathleen Grange were incredible acrobats and wore costumes as Billy the Cat and Katie The Cat.  They were not super heroes.


 Robots were big in the 1950s-1960s and Robot Archie was merely a remote controlled robot, from The Green Peril (The Jungle Robot) to travelling the world and, later on via tower-like device, travelling in time and space.  Yes, he foiled bank robberies and other criminal masterminds but he was not a super hero just a sci fi robot.

Likewise, the British secret weapon known as The Steel Commando was nothing more than that -though he answered only to Lance Corporal Ernie Bates' voice and seemed at times to make his own decisions -sometimes with very odd and funny consequences.

In fact, for my graphic novel featuring many old IPC and Fleetway costumed characters, The Looking Glass, I noted several times that the characters were not super heroes.  In the UK we tended to call them “costumed adventurers” or even “masked crime fighters” but not super heroes.

Some, of course, were…uh..”revived” for the Wildstorm Studios Albion mini series which had great art but, sadly, showed a lack of any real knowledge of the characters by the writers –which they admitted to.  In comics you get paying work you take it!

Below: Tri-Man. He wears a costume.  Has super powers.  Fights crime.  Obviously 'not' a super hero!

Characters such as Adam Eterno, the focal point in the Looking Glass story had no choice and were at times almost anti-heroes. 

Whereas The Spider had a choice of being a master crook and then changing sides (basically all ego driven), Eterno did not.  He was cursed to be taken by the mists of time from one period to another where he encountered Spanish Conquistadores, pirates, sorcerers and even modern day (well, 1970s) crooks.

Olaf (“Loopy”) Larsen a rather meek school teacher found the Viking helmet of one of his ancestors and, donning it (that’s putting it on his head) became a super strong, flying Viking hero…The Phantom Viking.  There are stories of The Phantom Viking rescuing ships and much more and not a skyscraper in sight.

The great exponents of British roof-top crime-busting were, first, Billy The Cat and later Katie The Cat.  Running across the rooftops and leaping the often not so great gaps between one row of terraced houses and another, the duo were the fictional ancestors of today’s urban free-style runners/jumpers –examples found here:


To most people who never get to see the rooves of terraced houses they assume they are all steep and sloping.  However, having on two occasions chased someone across terraced root-tops I can tell you there is plenty of room to move about (though at my age I now look back and get nauseous over that memory!).

Later, in the 1970s, William Farmer became the costumed crime-fighter known as The Leopard From Lime Street.  As one Fleetway boss told me (later confirmed by artist Mike Western) “Thomson had a schoolboy who fights crooks in a costume and if Billy the Cat was popular I was sure we could do better!”

Interestingly, in the Billy The Cat series he was later to be hunted as a vigilante by authorities who did not like what he was doing.  Likewise, The Leopard was also hunted down at one point.  In fact, a number of British comic crime-fighters found themselves not just ducking the crooks out for revenge but also the very side they were fighting for!

Towns, cities, villages, countryside, coastal locations –all featured in some very fun stories that endure in the memory to this day.  And not a bloody skyscraper in sight!

Now look at the UK again (or any country in Europe since this applies there, also -though Hexagon and Wanga comics are doing great work in France):  seaside resorts and coastal towns -in some of these areas larger "sea front tower blocks" have been built but even without those you have piers, amusement arcades/parks, sea forts, oil rigs out to sea -there is so much.

Towns and cities speak for themselves and Bristol has a mix of Medieval right through to ultra modern buildings and water fronts (our European colleagues in Germany did a lot of landscaping work for us between 1941-1944).  But there are underground caverns, cliffs, caves, old mine workings run many many miles from one end of the city to another and most are 'lost' or forgotten about.  And Pen Park Hole -wow.

Did I mention forestry and woodland?

And our ancient sites -everyone knows Stone Henge- but The Severn Sisters, Callanish, Avebury and even ancient woodland mazes -in Wales there are said to be ancient forests areas of which no one has probably ever seen.

Below:Callanish stones

There are the Green Man legends....

And then there are mountains and moors, ancient cave complexes and even underground lakes.

Just why would you need skyscrapers if you have all that -unless you lack imagination!

I used to love to watch the Narri Narro Festival in Germany where regional teams took part dressed as legends or myths from those areas.  In the UK there are the Green Children of Woolpit, Suffolk (12th Century)...

 And  there are many others to which we had the very well known ones.  King Arthur has been, perhaps, "over exposed" and we could say the same of Merlyn, but Merlyn is the British character intertwined in so many myths and legends that to ignore him would be rude!

When UK creators were recruited to save the ailing US comic companies such as DC in the 1980s (I was at those UK comic art conventions watching how desperate they were to recruit British talent –and in some cases introduced both parties to each other) the idea of outlawing super heroes and tracking them down so they could be arrested was a new concept....to Americans. 

In the UK we’d been doing that since the 1940s ( thanks to the creators who churned out material for publishers such as Gerald Swan)!

The mistake in the minds of publishers is that they equate costumed crime-fighters with skyscrapers and the United States.  Despite the long history of such characters in the UK going back to the Boys Papers of the 1900-1930s.

What it says, really, is “This is just a job.  I don’t care about comics history.”

The Scottish company whose name must ne'er be spoke (may they be forever cursed in the hallowed halls of British Comics Hell) have enough characters to produce good costumed-crime-fighter comics.  The same applied to IPC who appear to have now taken the stance (a letter to me from senior management dated 19th July, 2011) “We were once publishing comics but that was over 30 years ago and have no further interest in comics.” Of course, had a rich stable of characters.

I have no doubt at all that a good “super hero” comics could work in the UK but so few Independent Comics writers/publishers seem to be able to produce an obscenities free script that does not also include over the top violence and rape –the “Millar-Ennis-Morrison Legacy (MEML).”

But let’s mention, I really must, two shining examples of British “Super Heroes” by British creators that have excellent plotting, story and action without having to resort to the MEML.

The first is, naturally, Paul Grist’s Jack Staff.  Okay, he’s never accepted my offer to interview him in the last decade but I’ll not hold that against him!  When I first saw Jack Staff I thought “**** that anatomy is really off!”  I bought a copy.  I’m a comics bitch, I just can’t help it.

I read through issue 1 and do you know what? I..I..deep breath…I enjoyed it!  There it’s out now!  The anatomy did not put me off and, as the manager of Forbidden Planet (Bristol) said “It doesn’t make a blind bit of difference –it’s so enjoyable!” With references to old British TV comedy series and so much more each issue of Jack Staff was a must read. There was, I must point out here, a major flaw in each issue. There were not enough pages!

Jack Staff and cast

And while Grist takes a break from Jack Staff he came up with a new series –Mud-Man (which should not be confused with my German character Schlamm Mann –mud-man!).  Lovely stuff but, again, the major fault of not enough pages but maybe that is why this works: it is almost episodic like old British weekly strips…but with more pages…okay. Grist wins.

A boy with a remote control Army, Navy and Air Force stopping bad guys. General Jumbo 0'not' a super hero!

Then we have, and I have to say this on bended knees and in very humble tone…Nigel Dobbyn. When someone told me that he was drawing Billy The Cat I remember thinking to myself “I wonder whether his art style is any different than when he was drawing for Super Adventure Stories?”  (a 1980s comic zine).  I opened up the comic and a big thought balloon appeared above my head in which was written in bold Comic Sans “WOW!”

The style and colouring I had not seen outside of European comics (say Cyrus Tota’s work on Photonik).  After that I never missed an issue and I made a point of grabbing The Beano Annual as soon as it appeared in shops. But with this incredible talent working for them did Thomson take advantage?  No, they did something ensuring he would not work on new strips for them.  The story can be found here:


You want to see how good Dobbyn is?  Visit his website which has great art on show including Billy The Cat colour pages:


Dobbyn even re-introduced (with help from scripter Kev F. Sutherland, of course) General Jumbo but as The General.  In fact, you go over those issues and I can see why so many people were telling me that they only bought copies for Billy The Cat. I could drool on and wax lyrical for hours about Dobbyn’s style and colouring.

Now here is the real kicker.  Two talents such as Grist and Dobbyn whom any UK publisher (I know –“Who??”) should be fighting, spitting and kicking to get their hands on but are they?  Nope.  And while Grist publishes his books via Image Comics you have to wonder why Marvel or DC have not tried to get him on a title?  Could it be his style is just not understandable by people in US Comics such as Joe “I’ll sell that for a Dollar” Quesada or Dan “I’ve had another brilliant idea on how to destroy DC” Didio?  What of Dobbyn, then?

I know that if as a publisher I had the money I’d be employing both full time!!

I need to stop mentioning Dobbyn now as my knees hurt (a lot) and it’s hard typing from this position.

What both creators have shown is that there really do not have to be skyscrapers for a “super hero.”  There is enough car crime, drug crime…violent crime of most types going on in the UK and believe it or not none involve a single skyscraper.  Incredible, isn’t it?

Also, the UK is rich in legends, myths, fairy tales and much more that are just crying out to be included in storylines.  The reason the Americans and other comic readers world-wide like UK strips is because they are uniquely British.  In India, particularly in Southern India, The Steel Claw, Robot Archie, The Spider and many others are still very popular in reprint form over 35 years since they last appeared in print here.
Above: Black Tower specialises in two things when it comes to new characters -super heroes and the supernatural/horror.  Kotar & Sabuta by Ben R. Dilworth.

Of course, now that the Evil Empire (Disney) has extended its stranglehold on Marvel (Panini) UK nothing new from the UK is allowed –though why doesn’t Panini with all its international branches pull in some new characters/books of their own? 

Oh. Its cheaper to publish reprint material, isn’t it?  I can be so silly!

Black Tower Comics has published a wide range of comics and the costumed crime-fighters (or even non-costumed in the case of Krakos) are the most popular.

No one is challenging Disney since its policy seems to be "make all comics American" and no one is challenging DC.  It is NOT how you go into this.  I've seen babies clothed in Marvel/DC super hero clothing, Avengers shoe laces, lunch boxes, Pez dispensers, t-shirts, socks, action figures, toy cars sweets -basically on everything.  Do you think that kids look at something and say "I could not possibly look at that comic.  It may have super heroes and be colourful but, really, it isn't Marvel, is it?"

Do my great nephews care if it's Marvel or DC or some other super hero? No. It's super heroes and that is that.

So the market is there but where are the money-men, the backers needed to help revive the corpse that is British comics so that it can proudly boast an industry once more that takes advantage of talents such as Grist, Dobbyn and Jon Haward?   And rake in some of that money!

However improbable British super heroes might seem to sum I can tell you they are not.  There is a history going back 80 years and even longer if you include the Penny Dreadfuls of the Victorian era.

Here endeth the sermon.

Garen's Billy the Cat


This all led on to an article in response to remarks about how the French viewed the UK and its comics -in fact, I know I referred, as did those who noted this originally, to "the French" but, in fact, the attitude seems to be a Franco-Belgian one.

Anyway, this was titled....

“The French Laugh At The British At Angouleme –We’ve No Comics Industry!”
And So They Might 

And that is a quote, baby.  Not from one person but several including some comic professionals from the UK who will not repeat those words in public because “I just do not want the grief that follows saying that!

Oh, yes. On the old CBO I got the reaction to writing things like this but not just off the top of my head for controversy but fully backed up by facts and statistics.  I once suggested that all UK comic bloggers add a banner to their sites: “Let’s Revive The UK Comic Industry” and the reaction?

I was told I had “a Saviour complex” and a lot worse.  “Oh, so YOU are going to come and save us all?!!”  Really nasty things were written and not just on CBO but on comic blogs and forums.

Let me make this clear (because ALL the postings and responses were kept –a full file of all this is with a solicitor “in case”): I was being attacked because I suggested all of us in UK comics get together and try to rebuild the comic industry as best we could.

At that point I realised that the main problem was that we never really had an industry anyway –the comics business was so crooked that it used to be known to tax people as “the double cooked books with triple layer mud”.  Distributors were no better and often acted in collusion with publishers.

Once the fan-boy got into comics that was it.
But I was asked why I do not include the Small Press as the new comics industry?  Well, I believe that I have written before that it is but it does no real good. It is a dilettante comics industry.

Someone just Googled “Dilettante Comics” to see if they are collectibles.

Now I know people do tend to misconstrue my words even though I try to make them clear so hold on to your lederhosen.

I began drawing as a youngster.  In school I edited the school magazine Starkers The Magazine That Tells The Naked Truth which was in…1971/72?  The title came from the Deputy Head, Mr. Wright –an ex-RAF man and one of the most popular teachers at Greenway Boys School.  I do know that there was/is a magazine by that name from London(?).  Never seen it and I did an internet search recently and cannot find reference to it.  I am positive that I did see it advertised in publications such as Fortean Times (in the old days).

Anyway, one of the school secretaries complained and it was stopped at printing and burned.  Also, the rather pompous religious Head Master disliked immensely that I called it a “zine” –it was NOT a magazine and I kept saying it was a “little magazine –a zine”.
I later did lots of other work with newsletters, magazines, printers and from the late 1970s on, the Small Press world of fanzines.  I have a big collection of Small Press publications –poetry, prose fiction/sci fi as well as fanzines and comics.  Unlike today, the 1980s saw people from all over the UK exchanging their zines and if anyone needed a strip to fill a page or so everyone chipped in.  This was in letter writing days –no internet and phone calls were too expensive.

Also, we all knew comics.  Whether UK weeklies or the US comics from Marvel, DC, Charlton or the rather obscure companies.  And, of course, we all had our Alan Class comics.  Strange to think how many of us were into horror movies and particularly some of the classic black and white movies.  Then again, we were working in a black and white medium.  I was very happy when I also discovered a great many zinesters were fans of Orson Welles because of his masterful use of angles, shadows and the B&W medium.

In other words we were a community without internet and only after the Westminster Comic Marts and other one day events became more popular in the 1980s did any of us meet up.  There is a term you don’t hear these days –“marts” that were, basically, a hall full of people selling comics and zines and creators meeting up.  Going to the Westminster Marts was fun but we must have looked odd: meeting in a corner or on a staircase feeling different types of paper we drew on.  Checking out each others pencils,  pens (one typo and a letter “i” there and I could put a whole new slant on things!), brushes, sniffing inks and pens –checking which were alcohol based or whatever because certain pens combined with certain papers or boards could be very messy. Most of all we talked.

Apart from one or two incidents involving certain people I was never once accused of throwing anyone out of a window or into the Thames.  There were no witnesses. Understand?  NO….WITNESSES.

Most of us were starting work in comics or already working in the medium.  We knew about our subject.  Everything except earning big money!
Mastering a photocopier not to mention paste-ups, removing ghost-lines and so on was not something you had a choice in.  It was what you had to learn if you were in comics.

In the mid-1990s computers started appearing and before you knew it everyone new who came along was thinking they were going to produce and get rich from a Teenage Mutant Turtles or Blade Runner rip off.  And the ‘new pros’ –well some were quite open about using tracing paper to draw their comics.  In the huge stack of news zines and papers I have there are some true horror stories about this.  Stick figures as “a genuine artistic comic medium”…..no, I really never did throw that man in the Thames though he deserved to be.

And it only got worse.  Once the wave of mostly untalented creators vanished they were replaced by those arty farty elitists who believed that only European comics –Bandes Dessinee matter and that everything else was puerile.  Those people had been around in the 1980s and we used to call them “bow-tie *******” (this is a family site).  Here is the problem, though. These people only considered Franco-Belgian BD (must NOT call them “comics”!) legitimate.  

Spain and Italy had comic industries and though Germany had a small industry that mainly reprinted Franco-Belgian and US comics Bastei Verlag at least had their books going to more than a dozen European countries.

Alan Clark and the late Denis Gifford –particularly Denis- were nastily mocked and their work looked at as “low interest” because, unless it was The Beano, The Dandy, The Eagle were any other publications or creators not in those comics of any worth? Denis had a life long love of comics which the alcohol and dope loving new creators didn’t like.  Despite the lies and rumours I can tell you that Denis did receive and read Small Press publications –including mine.
People who were “names” in the 1980s continued to hang on in though, and I find it funny, they become media comic luvvies but you go to a Small/Alternative Press event and mention their names and you get blank looks!  But, if as “media luvvies” they get to pay their rent, eat and enjoy life good luck to them. I have no problem with that.

Now while comic Expos –the new “Marts”-  are popping up all over the country it has to be said that, say, 90% have no interest in the Small Press and have never seen a SP comic –and if they have they probably grimaced the same way their mothers do when they find that “odd stain” on the bed sheets (ladies I ask you to submit your own comic slob image).

One comic geek –because TV programmes such as The Big Bang Theory have made comics “hip” and everyone wants to be known or called a comic geek.  Bless, they’ll tire of it after a while.  And everyone is a new comic collector spending money on the ‘cool’ comics that many do not read and a few think that because they were conned  into paying huge amounts for a comic featuring a character(s) from new movies –which they find out are NOT the movie characters- they think will make them rich one day….when every other one of the THOUSANDS of copies of that comic suddenly turn to dust!
Comics toys, cosplay (including those with no knowledge or interest in comics) and TV/Movie merchandise are their world. Honestly, real old style comic fans are driven away from events and their passion by hugely inflated prices of comics and event entry fees.

Then we have the SP/AP people.  Never heard of Stan Lee (other than “Is he that old guy –the character from The Big Bang Theory?”.  Never heard (NEVER) of Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko.  John Romita snr (notJnr) or John or Sal Buscema?  Gene Colan? John Byrne?  No.  “Oh, they made a comic out of that Avengers film?” –it’s at this point that I usually fall to my knees (which hurts) and raise my fists to the heavens and scream out “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” and some ***** says “Mr Khnan from the TV comedy series? Why –is he okay?”

Honestly, I make a point of talking to these people and most, let’s face it, are at the oldest in their mid-30s so have never known UK comics other than the horrendous merchandise crap with toys attached.  Big names in UK comics –John Cooper? No.  Mike Western?  No.  Terry Hooper-Scharf?  “Didn’t he used to be held hostage somewhere?”  Yes. I have a beard so I’m mistaken for Terry Waite.  


Well, I suppose at least he kept the handcuffs and radiator.

But these people move in their own little circles.  I never realised that until I started name checking with people.  Some people in zines today do go to various events outside of cliques.  Our own Paul Ashley Brown –doyenne of the Bristol, London and he’s even known outside the UK.

I’m that man on the hill The Beatles sang about.  “Who are the Beatles? What man –Stan Lee?”  Do   not  try my patience...grrrrrrr.

And in 2014, as I already noted, I really found out how bad things were and, again, apologies for any repeating of facts but I do want them to sink in since his is, honestly, my last posting on the subject. After this all else would be nothing more than insipid vapour.

I'm Too Radical For The 'Kids'! -The BCZF

I would like to start by pointing out I am not ranting.  It seems that, if you have an opinion and try to get it across it is seen as “ranting”.  The “ranting” I do tends to be fairly tongue-in-cheek but I guess people don’t get it because there is no “smiley” after humour.
Believe me, if I ranted you would know it.
I need to also point out that I have attended and sold at zine and comic events for over thirty years.  I’m not some wide-eyed newcomer who expects to earn a fortune.  I know the business and in thirty years have been quite happy that I make back table costs and a small profit.
Neither do I expect to have people worshiping at my feet.  Particularly with the Small Press I like the fact that you are –or were- always taken as one of “the folk” who produce and sell zines.  It was very informal, swapping ideas, talking about all aspects of the Small Press.
I go into events never expecting to make money. I don’t think “I need to sell £15 worth to cover table cost, £x for travel and I’ll set the money I want to make today at £xx!”  That is not how it works.
What I did expect at the BCZF –at which I actually was the only comicker- was to have a good chat with creators and people attending the event.


My attending was to support a Small Press event in Bristol. Simon, one of the organisers is a very nice fellow and as helpful as you would really want a helpful person to be!  
It was not about making money –my books were being sold cheaper than a lot of Small Press books at the event and, basically, at cost. I was just going to get my money back on anything sold and no profit.
So, let me begin….
I arrived at the event location, the Station, at around 11:10hrs –the Station is a really nice place for an event and I’d hope that someone organising a comic mart might one day look at this place.  Okay, a few people seemed to be freaked out that they had to use unisex toilets.  I’m 57 years old and I’ve lived in Germany and travelled through Nederlands, France and Belgium. It takes more than that to phase me (and something was going on in one cubicle that we’ll not talk about). The Station is a lovely location.
So, met Simon who told me where my table was and that there was a name tag on it –so I looked and found!  “Hello. How’s it going?” I said to one zinester I had met previously.  “Yeah” he muttered as he turned away.  Okay, maybe had had a bad night.  The guy on the table next to me was setting up. “Hello –I’m Terry, how’s it going?” Response: “nngh. Okay.”   I began to think that I might need to drop the “how’s it going”.  So the other chap next to me turns up with his mate. I say “Hello” and nothing. In fact, I began to suspect both were deaf after another attempt to be friendly.
I then realised that my t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase: “Jim Fixed It For Me To Meet Rolf Harris” might have been a bad idea. 

I’ll point out here that that last sentence was dark, satire. Of a kind.
So, I spotted someone who had friended me on Face Book and went to say hello. I got a grunt and a

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23. Jordan Brown: What We Mean When We Talk About "Voice"

Jordan Brown is an executive editor with the imprints Walden Pond Press and Balzer + Bray at HarperCollins Children’s Books. In the ten years he has been in children's editorial, he has been fortunate enough to work with such esteemed authors and illustrators as Jon Scieszka, Anne Ursu, Gris Grimly, Steve Brezenoff, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Chris Rylander, Erin McGuire, Laura Ruby, Kevin Emerson, Christopher Healy, Greg Ruth, Dan Wells, Lois Metzger, M. Sindy Felin, and many others. Amongst the books he’s edited are New York Times bestsellers, ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, an NPR Backseat Book Club Selection, and a National Book Award finalist, in addition to other accolades. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Your voice is the way you distinguish yourself as a writer.

With everyone hanging onto every word, Jordan defines voice as what comes between the objective facts of your novel and your readers. He leads us in exploring

what voice does,

the elements of narration that define voice,

tasks and challenges to help our voice stand out,

and some examples that do voice well.

Three highlights:

1. Readers want to feel the character they're reading is emotionally real. And the way to get that authenticity is by being specific.

Authenticity = Specificity
2. Think of voice as a camera in a movie that chooses certain things to focus on over others, like leaving the room with one character while leaving the others behind.

3. The idea of psychic distance. Using five sentences from "The Art of Fiction" by John Gardner, Jordan walks us through the different distances of voice, from the helicopter view that's the most remote and objective to as close as it gets, no outside world at all. Each distance has its own feel and strengths and things to be aware of. And the point isn't to choose one level and stay there the whole book.

"The key is to know when to make moves between levels within your manuscript."

The session is packed with information and tips, covering first versus third limited points of view, how knowing something your character doesn't can disconnect readers from your story, the benefits and retraints of present versus past tense, and much, much more.

0 Comments on Jordan Brown: What We Mean When We Talk About "Voice" as of 8/1/2015 4:05:00 PM
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24. Coloring isn't just for kids! Adult coloring books are the newest way to relax.

I am so excited to share my newest product just added to the store! My new coloring book for adults and children - illustrating the heART of Childhood. I released it a month ago and have already ordered a second printing! Hooray!!

Coloring isn't just for kids anymore. This coloring book features the timeless art of Phyllis Harris with inspirational quotes and scriptures and is wonderful for adults and children alike. Great for stress relief and it would be a wonderful tool for therapy as well.
It's a great coloring book for adults and children alike!

NOTE: FREE U.S. SHIPPING BUT YOU MUST USE USShipFree AT CHECKOUT to receive the discount. U.S., only. So it doesn't matter if you order 10 books or 1 book...it is still FREE shipping! Hurry while the supply lasts!

Product description:

• 40 pages of inspirational images with encouraging quotes and scriptures

• Gloss card stock cover and back cover

• Interior Heavy bright white 60# paper

• 8.5 x 11"

0 Comments on Coloring isn't just for kids! Adult coloring books are the newest way to relax. as of 8/1/2015 2:09:00 PM
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25. Jack Thorne talks of working on “Cursed Child”

Playwright Jack Thorne has found himself thrust into the Harry Potter universe. Not only is he new to the insider world of of Harry Potter, but Thorne landed one of it’s most important roles, second to J.K. Rowling.

Jack Thorne wrote the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in collaboration with J.K. Rowling and director, John Tiffany. He described his job to the Times as having “to crawl inside J.K. Rowling’s head,” something all serious Potter-heads dream of doing. The article talks of Thorne’s process in creating the story and working with Jo Rowling. If you have a subscription to the Times, the whole article will make a good read. Luckily, MuggleNet was able to access the article and offers a good preview:

When asked if he was ready for his life to change, pretty much a guarantee for any artist involved in bringing a Harry Potter project to the world, Thorne responded that he hasn’t experienced much of that – yet.

Everyone said that [it’s going to make me famous]. Everyone said: ‘Wait for the announcement. It’s going to change everything.’ Then I sent out a tweet on the morning, just going: ‘I can’t talk about it, but I’m so proud to be part of it,’ sort of thing and phoned up Rach [his wife] about an hour and a half later because I was in town, and I couldn’t see my computer, and I was like: ‘How many retweets has it got?’ Sort of: ‘Am I now famous?’ And she went: ‘It’s got six.’ So OK, fame hasn’t visited me yet.

A bit later on, the article reveals how Thorne came to be involved with the project.

The Harry Potter play’s producer, Sonia Friedman, saw Let the Right One In, about a boy befriended by a vampire, which Thorne had adapted for the stage from the hit Swedish movie. She approached its director, John Tiffany, who recommended Thorne. He worked with JK Rowling on the story and wrote the script, now safely encrypted in his computer. All anyone will say is that it is not a prequel. Thorne was fully conversant with the Potter universe having read all the novels and sneaked into the films wearing his Ghostbusters T[-]­shirt to show the families he was ‘here for the genre’.

And finally, although Thorne doesn’t divulge any plot elements of Cursed Child, he does reveal a bit about his process of working on the play and what collaborating with J.K. Rowling is really like:

I’ve now had to read every book again and work out what spells do what. The detail that she produced is absolutely sensational. Looking back at The Fades I kind of go: ‘I wish I’d sketched the world even larger, the way that she did with Harry Potter.’ I just didn’t want to challenge the audience too much with too much stuff, so I was: ‘Always keep it simple.’ And actually, Jo doesn’t, and that’s what makes her so special. That’s the great thing about doing adaptations: you just learn so much. My job is to crawl inside her head.

Pottermore retweeted Harry Potter Play’s ticket announcement yesterday. It has bee confirmed that tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will go on sale this fall. Those who have signed up for the Cursed Child email alerts are considered “priority members.” Tickets will be available to “priority members” before being released to the general public. Registration for priority booking is available on the play’s website.

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