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<<May 2015>>
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1. The Wizard of Oz Blog Tour

Read on for more about the Classic Edition of The Wizard of Oz illustrated by Charles Santore, my Oz memories, and a giveaway!

From Goodreads:

“With stunning illustrations from celebrated artist Charles Santore and a child-friendly, abridged retelling that remains faithful to Frank L. Baum’s original text, this Classic Edition of The Wizard of Oz is a must-have for every family’s library.

”Readers of all ages will follow the Yellow Brick Road on an unforgettable journey that takes them from Dorothy’s gray Kansas home into the blue Munchkin land; the sparkling bejeweled Emerald City; the dark, foreboding forest; and the ruby-red throne room of Glinda the Good Witch in this gorgeously illustrated, classic edition of The Wizard of Oz.”

Like most children of many ages, my first exposure to The Wizard of Oz was the 1939 film/musical version starring Judy Garland. I've never read the novels, but now that I've read the classic edition, I really want to! I'm normally very wary of retellings and abridgments, but the classic edition of The Wizard of Oz does its best to capture the spirit and retain as much as possible of Baum's original text. Coupled with the gorgeous and imaginative watercolors of Charles Santore, this edition is essential for any child's library.

Santore plays with color, from the gray stormy overcast of Kansas, to the vibrant red poppy field, to the rich, almost-monochromatic-but-not-quite Emerald City. The golden hue of the Yellow Brick Road ties it all together. A lithe art-nouveau Glinda contrasts in style with a stumpy Great Oz and grotesque Wicked Witch. And if you're familiar with the Saturday Evening Post, you'll recognize the Americana touches to the illustrations. I get the impression that Santore's imagination caught fire upon reading the book, which he did so reluctantly, then repeatedly. There are so many spreads in this book that I would love to frame, particularly the pages with red poppies and the Queen of All the Field Mice. 

The Wizard of Oz was one of those movies that I had to watch and listen to ad nauseam when I was younger and my little sister was addicted to this film. There was a time I could perform the entire movie with dialogue and song entirely from memory. It's interesting reading the novel, even in abridged format, and encountering so many differences between the classic edition and the film. I will have to dig out my husband's copies of the series from when he was a child, and discover the differences for myself.

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Follow along with the Official Blog Tour

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One lucky winner will get a copy of The Wizard of Oz: Classic EditionUS addresses only, ends May 31, 2015

  • Open to US only, ends 5/31/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
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2. Thinkerox: A Brain in a Box, by Dr. Brian Whitestone | Dedicated Review

Most everyone will agree that technology can be both beneficial and detrimental but how to explain this to children can often be difficult. Dr. Brian Whitestone, author of Thinkerox: A Brain in a Box, has depicted both aspects for children in an imaginative and vivid tale about a boy and his invention.

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3. Brian Katcher, author of THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK, on avoiding distraction

We're honored to have Brian Katcher stop by to tell us more about his latest novel THE IMPROBABLY THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK.

Brian, what was your inspiration for writing THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK?

My editor called me up and asked me to write a book about nerds. I told her she had found her author. I didn't need to do ANY research.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The hardest scenes to write were the ones where Zak talks about losing his father to cancer. I've never lost anyone before their time.  My favorite scene was the one where Zak has to fight his way through an SCA battlefield. It was funny and exciting, or at least it was to write.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

David Levithan's NICK AND NORA'S INFINITE PLAYLIST was certainly an inspiration for this book. One crazy night, the sort of thing that happens very seldom in one's life. And if you like the crazy nerds having an adventure genre, there's Antony John's THOU SHALT NOT ROAD TRIP. And of course my PLAYING WITH MATCHES.

How long did you work on THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK?

About a year.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

That as long as I'm writing about something I'm passionate about, it's fun. When I tried to do something trendy (apocalypse books, etc), I failed.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK?

That no matter how mainstream geeks and nerds have become, we're still just a bunch of awkward nice guys and girls who are too shy to talk to you.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I never wanted to be a writer, so it came as no surprise that my first book, PLAYING WITH MATCHES, was repeatedly rejected. It was published by literally the last place I sent it to, which, much to my surprise, was a division of Random House. My Second book, ALMOST PERFECT, won the ALA's Stonewall award. Then I hit a five year dry spell. My other published book, EVERYONE DIES IN THE END, came out last year. I have two and a half books that will probably never see the light of day, and one I'm trying to find a home for.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

I was down and out in Mexico, wondering what an American could do to mend a broken heart. It was either write a book or join the Zapatista rebels and try to overthrow the Mexican government. And, as I'm an abject coward, I chose the former.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I can't stand any distraction, not even music. I used to work at coffee shops because there I couldn't be distracted by the internet, but then they all got wifi. I usually write at home after my family has gone to bed. But how can I concentrate on my book when the Wikipedia entry for 'Ernest Goes to Camp' is so poorly written?

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Actually write your stupid book instead of just talking about it; get peer feedback, and stick with it.

What are you working on now?

Another assignment from my editor. It's about an idiot man-child who goes back to elementary school to prove to his wealthy father that he's responsible enough to inherit the family business.

That's actually an Adam Sandler movie. You'll just have to wait and see how my next book turns out.

Oh, and I also do book reviews for www.foreveryoungadult.com  Stop by and say hi!


The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zakby Brian Katcher
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/19/2015

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Award-winning author Brian Katcher's hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date at a sci-fi convention.

When Ana Watson's brother ditches a high school trip to run wild at Washingcon, type-A Ana knows that she must find him or risk her last shot at freedom from her extra-controlling parents.

In her desperation, she's forced to enlist the last person she'd ever want to spend time with—slacker Zak Duquette—to help find her brother before morning comes.

But over the course of the night, while being chased by hordes of costumed Vikings and zombies, Ana and Zak begin to open up to each other. Soon, what starts as the most insane nerdfighter manhunt transforms into so much more. . . .

Purchase The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak at Amazon
Purchase The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak at IndieBound
View The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak on Goodreads


Brian Katcher was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1975. He attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, before dropping out of society and bumming around Mexico for three years. He’s worked as a fry cook, a market researcher, a welding machine operator, a telemarketer (only lasted one day), and a furniture mover. He lived on an Israeli military base one summer, and once smuggled food into Cuba. When he’s not writing, he works as a school librarian. He lives in central Missouri with his wife and daughter. He still hasn’t paid the parking ticket he got in West Virginia in 1997.

What did you think of our interview with Brian Katcher, author of THE IMPROBABLY THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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4. OLW 2015 Check-In

How is your OLW serving you?

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5. Krasznahorkai's translators

       Krasznahorkai László was awarded the Man Booker International Prize earlier this week, and in The Guardian he writes about My hero: George Szirtes and my other translators, a nice little tribute to those who have helped spread the Krasznahorkai-word beyond Hungarian.

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6. Censorship in translation in ... China

       PEN American Center has issued a report on 'Foreign Authors and the Challenge of Chinese Censorship': Censorship and Conscience (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       An interesting overview, with examples -- and author-reactions such as Paul Auster's:

The publisher, Shanghai 99 Readers, cut several pages describing Liu and his situation. In several other places, mentions of the dissident's name were replaced by "L." References to China were replaced by "Country C." Auster told PEN that he never signed off on the changes and feels his book was "mutilated." "Some limbs have been chopped off," Auster said.
       (The Chinese situation is, on the one hand extreme, but on the other also predictable -- really, writers should be aware that this might happen, especially regarding China-sensitive material. And I can't help but note that mutilation-in-translation is a near-universal practice (worse in some markets than others) -- albeit generally not due to government pressure, but rather largely publisher-initiated, as they want to 'fix' books for domestic consumption (in translation-into-English that often (but not only) means: abbreviate, as in cutting out chunks of the original); while authors are more often (though certainly not always) at least made aware of the changes that are made they generally have little choice in the matter -- and, in the case of translation-into-English, the prize (translation into English !) may seem big enough that they'll acquiesce to any gutting of their book the publisher deems fit. Disappointingly, consumers (readers) are largely left in the dark as to how a text has been (mal)treated in translation -- publishers rarely making mention of what they've done.
       My hope/wish with translation to and from any and all languages is always: fidelity to the original -- which, at the very least, should mean: no cuts, no substantive changes. Foreign-commercial/aesthetic judgments ('US readers won't get that; it has to be cut/changed') seem, at least in the end-effect, as reprehensible as politically motivated ones.)

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7. PalFest 2015

       PalFest -- the Palestine Festival of Literature -- has started, and runs through the 28th.

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8. Swimming in the Dark

For years I’ve held an image in my head of a plant growing toward the light as a way of understanding the writing process. It was an image that a beloved writing teacher shared with me years ago, and the image of my work growing toward the light--drawn to the light--helped me through some dark passages in my life as I tried to sort out which direction to follow in terms of what I wanted to

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9. Character Arc, part 2: the Lie, the Want, the Need

In a previous post, character arc was discussed. According to KM Weiland, gaining an understanding of how to write character arcs is a game-changing moment in any author’s pursuit of the craft. Weiland is the creator of the Helping Writers Become Authors blog, a deep well of information on the multiple aspects of the writing craft.

Weiland devotes over a dozen articles to character arcs, linked here. A story should begin with The Lie Your Character Believes. This lie is the foundation for the MC’s character arc. It’s his “normal” and is what is wrong in his life. Everything may be grand for the MC (or not), but festering just under the surface is The Lie.

People hate change. We hang out safe in our comfort zones and our characters are no different. They resist change just as we do. Weiland says that is okay because out of resistance comes conflict, and out of conflict comes plot. Plot is more than just a protagonist working toward an external goal. It’s about the MC’s inner goal, the thing he can’t get all because of The Lie.

A protagonist should start the story with something lacking, some way he is incomplete internally. He probably doesn’t realize it, or at best, has a vague understanding of it. He may not be affected by it or in denial of it until the inciting incident. Weiland compares it to a tooth cavity, shiny on the outside but decayed just below the surface. A writer should introduce The Lie early and show how the MC is deeply established in it through his “normal” world. In A Christmas Carol, Dickens sets Ebenezer Scrooge’s normal as one of work, work, work. There is no time for Christmas and other such folly. The poor and destitute have only themselves to blame and will get no help from him. This establishes his Lie: that a man’s worth is only measured by money. 

The next leg of the character arc is what Weiland calls What the Character Wants/What the Character Needs. It is related to The Lie.

Every plot line features a protagonist striving for a goal, something external. When creating character arcs there needs to be two, the surface goal and something that matters to the character on a deeper level. The Lie is at the heart of the secondary goal. The Thing Scrooge Wants - money and lots of it - bolsters his Lie of personal worth is measured by wealth.

At the story’s beginning, the MC doesn’t realize he has a problem. He believes chasing the Thing he Wants will bring fulfillment. Yet, pursuing it only entangles him deeper in his Lie. He can only find contentment in seeking the Thing he Needs. What he needs is the truth.

Your main character will spend the story unknowingly seeking the Thing he Needs, while in pursuit of the Thing he Wants. What he Needs is usually not physical. Often What he Needs is merely a realization, a new perspective that will change the way he views himself. He Needs the truth. Without it, he will not grow. He’ll either stagnate in the negative beliefs that’s holding him back, or he’ll digress even further. Ebenezer Scrooge Needs to see that true wealth comes not from money, but from a connection with his fellow human beings.

Characters are complex little creatures. They’ll lie to themselves, wish for things they think they need, and ignore the things they need.

(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

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10. Superstition/ face book

Blind Faith … Superstition …

एक फेसबुक मित्र बहुत समय से फेसबुक पर नही दिखी तो मैने उसे मैसेज करके पूछा तो वो बोली कि पिछले दिनों उसने अपनी  एक  दो  तस्वीरे डाली थी  उसपर 200 से ज्यादा लाईक और कमेंट मिले उस दिन के बाद से उसकी तबियत खराब हो गई … मैने पूछा कि तबियत खराब और तस्वीर का आपस में क्या ताल मेल.. तो वो बोली कि नजर लग गई … फोटो बहुत सुंदर आई थी ना नजर लग गई … उसने  बताया कि उसकी सासू मां  भी यही कह रही है कि इसलिए अब वो कुछ दिन फेसबुक पर नही आएगी और आएगी भी तो अपनी फोटो नही  डालेगी.वही कुछ दिन पहले  एक फेसबुक सहेली ने बताया था  कि फेसबुक पर उसने भगवान जी की फोटो शेयर नही की इसलिए उसका दिन बहुत खराब गया. बास से लडाई हो गई और  नौकरी छोडनी पड  रही है.

एक अन्य जानकार ने अपने हजारों दोस्तों को डिलीट  कर नया एकाऊंट बनाया और अपने नाम की स्पैलिंग बदल दी. पूछ्ने पर बताया कि ये ज्यादा शुभ है और इससे ज्यादा दोस्त बनेंगें. मैने देखा कि इतने दिन हो गए और अभी तक उसकी दोस्ती का आकंडा 200 को भी पार नही कियाjail by monica gupta

Oh God ! तभी मुझे याद आया कि कल जय ललिता जी की  CM शपथ लेने के दौरान  राष्ट्रीय गान बीच में ही रुकवा दिया गया ताकि शुभ मुहुर्त न निकल जाए और फिर  शपथ ली. वैसे ये किसी चैनल पर तो नही देख पाई,  आया  होगा, पर अखबार मे जरुर पढा और पढने के बाद दुख हुआ कि आज 21 वीं सदी मॆं हम किस तरह का संदेश देने का प्रयास कर रहे हैं . हमें इन पर रोक लगाने का सोचना चाहिए या वाकई में  बाते मायने रखती है.

The post Superstition/ face book appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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Luiz Salgado no PARTIO, adquira seu novo álbum!

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12. Memorial Day 2015

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, a day to take some time and think about those men and women who served their country and are no longer with us.

I found this poem on the International War Veterans' Poetry Archives: War and its Consequences, a site where veterans' and their families can post poems about their experiences.  The poem below was written in 1981 by Kelly Strong when he was in high school.  It is a tribute to his dad who was a career marine and served two tours of duty in Vietnam.  I think this poem speaks for itself this Memorial Day.


I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze;
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked a him in uniform,
So young, so tall, so proud;
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought…how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves
No, Freedom is not Free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still;
I listened to the bugler play,
and felt a sudden chill;

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend;

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No. Freedom is not Free!

Used with permission ©Copyright 1981 by Kelly Strong
You can contact him at kellystrong@aol.com

In Memoriam
FCP 1955-2001

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13. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #433: Featuring Julie Paschkis

Julie: “P. Zonka is a Friesian Bantam.”


If I were really organized, you would have read this post months ago at the dawn of Spring. It’s a very Spring’y book, and it also has a lot to do with eggs, which are also very Spring’y. But sometimes I’m just slow. Better late than never, though. Right?

There is a closing note in Julie Paschkis’ new picture book about how she and her family have an annual party where they gather together with friends to decorate eggs and eat yummy food. She makes particular mention of pysanky, Ukrainian decorated eggs, and a brilliant, decorated egg is an integral part of the story in this bright and beautiful book, P. Zonka Lays an Egg (Peachtree, March 2015). When I say bright, I’m talking a primarily sunny yellow palette, punctuated by other warm and lovely colors.

The story itself is about a chicken who doesn’t lay her eggs on time, nor does she lay enough of them to suit all the other chickens. (Rebel, nonconforming chickens are my favorite kinds of chickens, even if I can’t start my day without scrambled eggs.) P. Zonka is too busy taking in her surroundings, observing all the world’s wonders and details, to lay her eggs. But never fear: She has a big surprise for everyone in the end. “Every page turn,” writes the Kirkus review, “reveals a stunning new composition of fowls with personality, baskets of eggs and floral design elements evocative of … the beautiful folk art found on a Ukrainian decorated egg.”

It’s technically still Spring, so let’s take a look at some art from the book. (Most spreads are sans text.) I thank Julie for sharing; she also sent some early sketches. Oh, and we’ll close with some of Julie’s decorated eggs.

Enjoy …

Julie: “I painted this test sheet of all the dyes in two strengths, but the printer couldn’t match the colors, so I did the book with watercolor and gouache.”


Julie: “Originally, I wanted to paint the book with Ukrainian dyes. This was a sample.”


“Maud laid one egg every day. Dora laid an egg every other day.
Nadine always laid exactly five eggs a week.”


“Gloria never laid an egg because he turned out to be a rooster.
It was his job and he did it well.”


“All the other chickens laid eggs regularly.
All of them except P. Zonka.”


“‘I will tell you why,’ said P. Zonka. ‘Because of the pale mornings, the soft dark moss, the stripes on the crocuses, the orange cat with one blue eye,
the shining center of a dandelion, the sky at midnight.'”


“‘I don’t get it,’ said Maud. ‘P. Zonka is just plain lazy,’ said Nadine.
‘Come on, P. Zonka,’ urged Dora. ‘You might like laying an egg.’
‘Cock-a-doodle-doo!’ ‘Can’t you at least try?’ they all asked.”


…spectacular! There were patterns of sun yellow, grass green, tulip red. There were blues as bright as day and blues as dark as midnight.”


“After that, P. Zonka went back to wandering around the farmyard. She looked down and she gazed up. She clucked in wonder at all the colors she saw.
She didn’t lay very many eggs…”


P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG. Copyright © 2015 by Julie Paschkis. Published by Peachtree, Atlanta, Georgia. All images here reproduced by permission of Julie Paschkis.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) A night out.

1½) With raspberry torte.

2) Letterman’s farewell on Wednesday night. One of my oldest friends and I had on our bucket list to see him live one day, and well … we missed out on that. [She was, however, on the show years ago, handing an animal to Jack Hanna (since she works with zoos), and she brought me some surprises from the green room. I still have them.]

3) Last weekend’s children’s reading festival in Knoxville was wonderful, as always. Pictured here is the good discussion we had about picture books. I moderated, and weighing in with great responses were: R. Gregory Christie, Phil Stead, Erin Stead, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and Dan Santat.



4) New bikes!

5) I finally wrote about my trip to Wyoming here. Maybe next week I’ll share more photos from the day (here at 7-Imp).

6) I went from the Tetons to the Appalachians in the span of one week.

7) School is over! The girls and I have a huge stack of books we can’t wait to read. Summer time = more time to read. (And swim.)

BONUS #1: This. Kyle Mooney makes me laugh.

BONUS #2: Game of Thrones, The Musical.

BONUS #3: Reading lots of picture books this week at my daughters’ school. I also got a third-grade class turned on to Dory Fantasmagory and left them my copy. Since I’m a Dory Evangelist, my work there is done.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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14. Color Photography from 1913

In its informal pose and rich color, this photograph looks like it was shot in 1973, but actually it was taken in 1913. 

It used the Autochrome process, developed in 1903 by the Lumière brothers, using glass plates covered with potato starch. Motoring pioneer Mervyn O’Gorman took the photo, with his daughter Christina posing. The lack of era-specific costume details adds to the sense of timelessness.
This and seven other photos of Christina at Bored Panda

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15. Writing Tip - Beware of Repetitive Redundancies.

This was originally printed in the SCBWI Bulletin a few years ago, but in critiquing several manuscripts for an upcoming conference, I thought it might be helpful to repost it on my blog for those who insist on writing repetitive redundancies. Repetitive Redundancies By Gayle C. Krause What kind of title is that? It means the same thing. Exactly my point! Many new writers are absolutely

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16. Francesca Zappia, author of MADE YOU UP, on writing what you love

MADE YOU UP is the debut novel by Francesca Zappia, and we're excited to have her here to tell us more about it.

Francesca, how long did you work on MADE YOU UP?

I've been working on MADE YOU UP for over ten years. It hasn't looked the way it does now until just recently, but the characters and settings have always been there, and they've evolved as the story evolved.

What do you hope readers will take away from MADE YOU UP?

I hope they'll take away from the book that it's okay to ask for help. Needing help isn't a weakness, and if you look, there will always be someone willing to help you, whether the issue is inside yourself or with some situation outside you.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I'll write just about anywhere as long as I have my computer and headphones. I do most of my writing from home, because public spaces feel too...well, public. Sometimes, if I feel like I'm hitting a wall, I'll switch from computer to a notebook and pen. Sometimes I have to go straight loose-leaf paper and let them fall on the floor after I write on them. I pretty much always have to have music though--each story has specific songs or genres of music that fit it best, and listening to those helps center me on that particular story.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Write what you love. If you're in a position where you can't write what you love, at least make it interesting to you. If you can't make it interesting to you, then come up with a new idea. If writing is what you love, then writing what you don't like will only depress and frustrate you, and that's no way to live.


Made You Upby Francesca Zappia
Greenwillow Books
Released 5/19/2015

 Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Purchase Made You Up at Amazon
Purchase Made You Up at IndieBound
View Made You Up on Goodreads


Francesca Zappia lives in central Indiana and majors in computer science at the University of Indianapolis. She spends most of her time writing, drawing her characters, and reading. Made You Up is her debut novel.

(Note from the formatter: Made You Up is a phenomenal debut novel. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!)

What did you think of our interview with Francesca Zappia, author of MADE YOU UP? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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17. What Influences You?

A friend of mine asked me to blog on the topic: influence.  I thought to myself that this can be done in so many ways, but yet accepted the challenge.  Sometimes, we can be influenced by other people.  We may come across positive influences as well as negative.  I used to have a friend in junior high.  Unfortunately, she was a bad influence on me.  I did get into trouble at that time whenever I hung out with her.  However, I believe that bad influences come and go out of our lives for a reason.  This causes us to identify with our inner self on a deeper plateau.   Our environment definitely has a strong affect upon us.  If we are residing in an urbanized environment, our goals and expectations are much different from someone living in a rural environment.  There are many other influences that impress upon our lives such as music.  If we love to listen to a certain type of music, we may take that lifestyle that coincides with that music and thus  become one.  Teachers may have an influence upon our lives.  Henry Adams once said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."  Sometimes, we look up to celebrities as well as the world around us. We analyze the latest trends that are in the world and get influenced to want to be part of that.  As human beings, we are like sponges.  We soak up so much information that the world has to offer us.  We becomes easily influenced to follow and submerse our self into what the norm has decided for us.  It is very difficult for most people to be a leader and not a follower.  I think one of the most difficult challenges in life is to try to influence others and not become influenced.  "True leaders don't create followers. They create more leaders."

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18. Ken Burns delivers the 2015 Commencement Address

Ken Burns recently shared a commencement speech important to all of us, not just this graduating class. I urge you to listen to every bit of it. Click the image to go listen on YouTube.

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19. Comics Friday: Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu

From Goodreads:
Zoe isn't exactly the intellectual type, which is why she doesn't recognize world-famous author Thomas Rocher when she stumbles into his apartment...and into his life. It's also why she doesn't know that Rocher is supposed to be dead. Turns out, Rocher faked his death years ago to escape his critics, and has been making a killing releasing his new work as "lost manuscripts," in cahoots with his editor/ex-wife Agathe. Neither of them would have invited a crass party girl like Zoe into their literary conspiracy of two, but now that she's there anyway. . . . Zoe doesn't know Balzac from Batman, but she's going to have to wise up fast... because she's sitting on the literary scandal of the century!
I feel like I've seen this one get a fair amount of publicity in the comics/graphic novels circles, but it's something I grabbed on a whim.  I was interested in the idea of a literary figure faking his death as well as being in a romantic relationship with a non-intellectual.  I think the author did a great job of making Rocher pretentious and unappealing, to the point that he was hard to read.  I definitely pictured him as comics-style Jonathan Franzen, which didn't do much for his likability, but was exactly what I expected.  He was unlikable in a fun way, especially if you know literary enthusiasts who tend toward the pretentious side of things.

As much as I appreciated Rocher's character, I was less impressed with Zoe.  She's not very smart and pretty much just relies on her looks to get what she wants.  In the end, of course, the twist reveals that she ultimately outsmarted Rocher, but for the majority of the book she just grated on my nerves.  I liked Agathe more, but not muich more.  Overall, this was just ok.  It's not one that I'll likely purchase or recommend to other readers.

Click the link at the top of the post to see some differing reviews - there are several readers and outlets I trust that felt differently.  I saw one review that declared this the chick-lit of the comics world.  I agree, but that's not a draw for me the way it was for the writer of the review.  I agree that it's great to see women's stories represented in comic form, but it's just a genre that appeals to me at this point.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review.

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20. Heather Dixon, author of ILLUSIONARIUM, on writing on a train

We're thrilled to have Heather Dixon here to tell us more about her latest novel ILLUSIONARIUM.

Heather, what was your inspiration for writing ILLUSIONARIUM?

Terry Pratchett.  The Discworld books are stories that I can read over and over and over, and so a lot of that humor transferred over into Illusionarium—including wry footnotes.  He has recently passed on, which broke my heart.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

I’d say every scene I’ve gotta write is like being bled by leeches.  It’s an agonizing process. Definitely the scenes where Jonathan’s sister was getting hurt, those were hard for me—she never really had a way to fight back.  But I absolutely adored the scenes with the character Lockwood in them.  He stole the show.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Possibly fans of the "Larklight" series by Phillip Reeve, or the "Airborn" series by Kenneth Oppel would like Illusionarium; also fans of steampunk in general.  And of course, those who love Terry Pratchett!

How long did you work on ILLUSIONARIUM?

About four years.  Crazy.

What do you hope readers will take away from ILLUSIONARIUM?

Mostly I just hope readers are entertained and enjoy the humor!  Esp. the footnotes, lol.
At the core, Illusionarium is a story about inner compasses.  So what people take away from that is up to them, I think.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I write on the train.  My commute is about 2 hours a day, so that's great writing time.  When I'm on deadline, I spend entire Saturdays on the train too--just going end-of-the-line to end-of-the-line, typing away.  The train is a great place to write.  I can't get any writing done at home...too much other work to do!

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a retelling of the Nutcracker.  We'll see if it goes anywhere!


Illusionariumby Heather Dixon
Greenwillow Books
Released 5/19/2015

What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he's a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

 Purchase Illusionarium at Amazon
Purchase Illusionarium at IndieBound
View Illusionarium on Goodreads


386042Heather Dixon grew up in a large family with four brothers and six sisters. She is a storyboard artist as well as a writer, and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Viennese waltz is her dance of choice. She is the author of the novel Entwined.

What did you think of our interview with Heather Dixon, author of ILLUSIONARIUM? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,
Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin

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21. Drawing of a cat reading

I feel like doing pen and ink again. I've been doing colored pencils for everything for so long now, its almost like I have to give myself permission to do something else. I drew this little piece while sitting on the porch with the kitties, just hanging out. It was fun. And I didn't think about it very much.

I had some printer paper and a cheap ball point pen, and had intended to make serious lists of things I need to do/draw/figure out, etc., but instead I started drawing this couch.

I added the granny square afghan, then the pillows, then the upholstery.

Next came the lamp. I had no idea where I was going with this. I drew it hanging over the couch, then decided it needed one going the other way. Next was the table, and the stuff on it.

Then the kid,

who needed something to look at, so next came the cat.
I did the chair first, and then added the cat.

Nothing profound. Just fun. 

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22. Prayer for Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.  

May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace.

In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe.We ask this through Christ our Lord.Amen.

(Credit http://www.diocesepvd.org/a-prayer-for-memorial-day/) 


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

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A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ New England Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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23. Auspicious Time

Shubh Muhuratam

jail by monica gupta अक्सर हमारी कोशिश रहती है कि कोई भी काम अच्छे और शुभ मुहुर्त्त में किया जाए ताकि शुभ ही हो … चाहे CM पद के लिए oath या कोई  business आरम्भ करना हो पर हमारे दक्षिण भारतीय चोर महाशय तो और भी स्मार्ट निकले इन्होनें तो जेल जाने के लिए मुहुर्त निकलवाया है :)

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25. Cheer leader Dance

cheer leader dance -monicaगर्मी उपर से मैच का  फाईनल … सूर्य भी मानो चीयर्स लीडर की तरह डांस कर रहा हो

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