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1. New April cover art for Cricket Magazine

I just finished this cover for the magazine. Everyone needs to be outside once spring hits.
Looking forward to it myself.


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2. Preoccupied.

Illustration from the Profile Picture Project 
by Patrick Girouard

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3. Rabbit Rabbit: Woodland Valentines for February

Rabbit Rabbit February, digital serigraph © 2015 by Lisa Firke.

Rabbit Rabbit February, digital serigraph © 2015 by Lisa Firke.

Rabbit Rabbit everyone. After several weeks of very hands-on (and sticky) paper mache work in the studio, I turned my hand to some digital graphics in advance of Valentine's day.

Woodland Rabbits Valentine's Print
Woodland Rabbits Valentine's Print Woodland Rabbit Valentine's Cards
Woodland Rabbit Valentine's Cards Fabled Valentines Clipart Set
Fabled Valentines Clipart Set The Poster and the Card
The Poster and the Card

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4. Fiction Competition: The Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction

The Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction is offered annually for a previously unpublished short story of no more than 50 pages. The winning short story will be published in the 2015 fall/winter issue of Colorado Review; the writer receives a $2,000 honorarium.  

The Nelligan Prize was established in 2004 in memory of Liza Nelligan, a writer, editor, and friend of many in Colorado State University’s English Department, where she received her master’s degree in literature in 1992. By giving an award to the author of an outstanding short story each year, we hope to honor Nelligan’s life, her passion for writing, and her love of fiction.
Previous winners of the Nelligan Prize include Amira Pierce’s “Anything Good is a Secret,” (selected by Kent Nelson); Edward Hamlin’s “Night in Erg Chebbi,” (selected by Jim Shepard); and Matthew Shaer’s “Ghosts,” (selected by Jane Hamilton).


General Guidelines for the 2015 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction:

$2,000 will be awarded for the best short story, which will be published in the fall/winter 2015 issue of Colorado Review.

 
This year’s final judge is Lauren Groff; friends and students (current & former) of the judge are not eligible to compete, nor are Colorado State University employees, students, or alumni.


Entry fee is $15 per story (add $2 for online submissions); there is no limit on the number of entries you may submit.


Stories must be previously unpublished.


There are no theme restrictions, but stories must be under 50 pages.


Deadline is the postmark of March 14, 2015.

 
Winner will be announced by July 2015.


All submissions will be considered for publication.


You do not need to be a Colorado or US resident to enter.


To submit online:

The story title and your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address should be entered in the cover letter field, separate from your story. Be sure your name is not anywhere in the story itself (for example, in the header or footer).


The fee to enter online is $17 ($2 goes to the good people at Submittable; in most cases, it will be less expensive to enter online than by mail).
On or before March 14, 2015, submit here.


To submit via regular mail:

Include two cover sheets: on the first, print your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and the story title; on the second, print only the story title. Your name should not appear anywhere else on the manuscript.


Enclose a check for $15 for each story. Checks should be made out to Colorado Review. You may submit multiple stories in the same envelope, and the check can be made out for the total.
Provide SASE for contest results.


Manuscripts will not be returned. Please do not enclose extra postage for return of manuscript.
Entries must be clearly addressed to:

Nelligan Prize
Colorado Review
9105 Campus Delivery
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-9105


For complete guidelines, visit our website.

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5. Sunday Funnies #20: Gasoline Alley - 1921 to 1942

It's Super Bowl Sunday - a good day for blogging, making my Super Bowl Sunday chili and watching…Downton Abbey.  But this morning has also been a good time to straighten up my book shelves, which hasn't been done in a long, long time.  As I was working, I came across two little books published by Whitman - they really are little, only 3 5/8" X 4 1/2".  One is called Skeezix Goes to War (1943) and it's based on daily comic strips that ran in the newspapers in 1942-1943.

I probably bought it because Gasoline Alley has been one of my favorite comic strips ever since I first started reading them, but it has been around for a lot longer than my lifetime.  It officially began November 24, 1918 in the Sunday funnies of the Chicago Tribune, in a feature called The Rectangle, written and drawn by Frank King:

Chicago Tribune November 24, 1918 - Gasoline Alley int he bottom panel
But almost a year later, as it became more popular, Gasoline Alley became it's own a daily strip on August 25, 1919.  It was was originally about a group of friends interested in cars, and appeared in the Automobile section of the Chicago Tribune.  Beginning on December 22, 1919, however, Gasoline Alley started to focus on a character named Walt Wallet, a rather rotund bachelor who had served in World War I but the center of interest of the strip was still tinkering with cars.

It was an appealing comic strip, and began to gain in popularity, but not with women.  The Chicago Tribune wasn't happy about that and told King to do something that would make Gasoline Alley appeal to women. So, on February 14, 1921, Walt Wallet is awakened by his doorbell ringing in the middle of the night:
Gasoline Alley February 14, 1921
Walt discovers a week old abandoned baby on his doorstep, who he eventually calls Skeezix and adopts, though Skeezix always refers to him as Uncle Walt.  Now that Skeezix was introduced into the strip, Gasoline Alley began to focus less on things automotive and more on things domestic, becoming a really family-orientd comic strip appealing to everyone now, not just men.

What set Gasoline Alley apart from most comic strips from the beginning is that the characters not only develop unique personalities, but they also grow up and grow old, giving it a real-to-life feeling.  In 1926, when Skeezix is 5 years old, Walt marries his girlfriend Phyliss Blossom.  Later, in 1928, they have a child nicknamed named Corky, and 1935, they adopt another orphan, Judy.  Meanwhile, readers are watching Skeezix grow up:

Gasoline Alley November 4, 1928 Skeezix around age 7
After graduating from high school in 1939, Skeezix gets a job, and continues going out with high school girlfriend Nina Clock.  But on December 7, 1941, the United States is attacked and enters World War II.  The now 20 year old Skeezix knows it only a matter of time until he is drafted, so on January 16, 1942, he enlists in the army, but not before asking Nina to marry him:  

Gasoline Alley December 24, 1941
Gasoline Alley January 16, 1942

To be continued: Skeezix Goes to War

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6. Call for Plays and Screenplays: JustA Theater & Production Company

JustA Theater & Production Company is a new Los Angeles-based company dedicated to fostering and employing diverse and emerging writers and actors.

We are seeking original work for our inaugural 2015 season: three staged play productions and two short films.

We would like to reach out to students in your prestigious program for play and short screenplay submissions. Our starting stipend for writers is $150.

Here are our submission guidelines:

Characters should primarily range between the ages of 15 and 30.

At least two characters must be women.

Diverse themes and characters are encouraged.

We welcome scripts of varied genres. Feel free to submit plays with elements of absurdism or magic-realism, as well as plays rooted in realism.

Staged plays should not exceed 115 pages total.

Screenplays should not exceed 15 pages.

Please submit the first 15 pages of your piece to:

infoATjustatheaterDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )
.
For more information, visit our website.

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7. Caldecott Award live

logo_YMAThe ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. CT in Chicago (that’s 9 a.m. for Martha and me). Here is a link to the live webcast.

Watching online is not quite the same as being in that huge ballroom full of book-loving early risers, fizzing with anticipation and hoping their favorite new books are about to be named. With luck, the microphone will pick up some of the reactions in the audience.

Robin will be right there in the room for the announcements. Martha and I will be in our own homes surrounded by the March book review section because we’re expecting ANOTHER foot or more of snow tonight and tomorrow.

Wherever you are, we will post the winners on this blog ASAP so we can all react to the announcements together.

Share

The post Caldecott Award live appeared first on The Horn Book.

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8. Groundhog Day




Every year on February 2nd we celebrate Groundhog Day.  On this day Americans await for the groundhog to emerge from his burrow to predict how much winter is left for the year. If it's cloudy and he doesn't see his shadow, then spring will come early, but if it's sunny and he does see his shadow then we will have six more weeks of winter.  


The first and largest Groundhog Day takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where Phil the Punxsutawney Groundhog has been predicting the weather since 1886. The day is celebrated with large crowds, music and food as they wait for Phil to make his debut.


To learn more about Groundhog day visit us in the children's room!







posted by Josephine 






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9. How to be more creative everyday.

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As inspired and creatively enthusiastic as we are, there are times when we can’t be as fully creative as we want to be. Whether you’re a creative pro taking a break after long hours at the drawing board, working a day job during the day or you’ve got to take time away from your creative life because of school. These things happened and we have to prioritize other things over our creativity.

However have you found when the pencils, paint brushes, graphics tablet or camera are put down, we don’t quite know what to do with ourselves. We’re creatively restless and eager to do anything but relax or what we’re supposed to. So to sooth your creative side whilst taking a break or trying to focus on other life to-do’s, here are a few small ways you can be creative in even the smallest ways everyday:

  1. Doodle while you’re on the phone ( comes in handy when you’re stuck on hold)
  2. Write a quirky quote as your twitter or facebook
  3. Doodle on the fridge ( grab a black wipe away board pen and have fun)
  4. Snap some pictures on your phone whilst you’re on your travels
  5. Write or draw something quirky in the sand or snow ( if you have snow where you are!)
  6. Doodle on your ipad whilst sitting on the bus or train
  7. Grab a pack of sticky notes and jot down your creativity anywhere ( maybe leave it for someone else to find?)
  8. Doodle on a napkin whilst you’re in that coffee shop whilst waiting for a friend or meeting.
  9. Sketch what you wore that day ( if you’re a lover of fashion)
  10. Find inspiration in the little things and make a quick 2 minute sketch of it ( it might become an illustration or pattern later on)
What do you do everyday to stay that little bit creative?

Image by illustrator Rhianna Wurman, you can find out more about there work here.

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10. Some More Things Strange & Sinister


Some More Things Strange & Sinister


Terry Hooper-Scharf
Paperback,
A4
327 Pages 
Heavily illustrated
Price: £20.00
Follow-up to the hugely successful Some Things Strange & Sinister.


For those interested in Ufology, cryptozoology, hominology, unusual natural history, ghosts and mysteries in general.

The secret history of gorillas in the UK -before they were officially  'discovered'. The history of  the Wild men of Europe, the UK and US: something that in the 1800s become very "pop culture"  Very pop culture and totally forgotten today!

Hominology. Sasquatch and Bigfoot -is there evidence for their existence?  No sitting on the fence here -the Patterson-Gimlin film is looked at as well as other evidence.  The Author's conclusions? You might be surprised.

Giant snakes. Amazons. The Giant serpent of Carthage. The Girt Dog of Ennerdale -another big cult 'creature' amongst paranormal and cryptozoological circles. The Beast of Gevaudan -what was it and were there really descendents of the creature in the 19th century -one of which was actually brought to London? 

 Believe it or not more than one incident of historical crocodiles cases in the UK.  In fact, far more than even the Author had thought .

And, after more than a century of claims by 'researchers' that it no longer exists: The Silent City of Alaska and the near legendary 'lost' photograph taken of it.

 This and much more. Updated with extra pages and photographs. 

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11. Call for Poetry Submissions: The Freeman

The Freeman accepts poetry submissions year-round to be considered for publication. Poems appear online, and some are selected to appear in the quarterly print magazine as well. Payment is $50 per accepted poem. Recently published poems can be seen here.


Guidelines
Submissions must be unpublished poems or translations only.
Simultaneous submissions are acceptable if noted as such.
Translations into English are accepted, but either the translator must have documented permission to publish the translations at the time of submission or the poems must be in the common domain per U.S. and international copyright law.
Include copies of the poems in the original language with any translation submissions.
Send up to 6 unpublished poems, up to 60 lines each (exceptions to the length restriction may be made in rare cases), in .pdf, .doc, .docx, or .rtf format to the Poetry Editor at:


poetryATfeeDOTorg (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

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12. At the Drug Store

At the drug store, what to choose?
All those choices do confuse.
Vitamins for gals or men?
Over 50? Pick again!

DayQuil, NyQuil, ZzQuil or
Generic ones made by the store?
Tablets, caplets, maybe gels?
Wonder which one better sells.

Dental floss in mint or plain?
Waxed or unwaxed? What a pain!
Lotions for your winter itch
Look the same, so which is which?

I’m exhausted when I leave
Even though I do believe
Products with a different name,
Though hyped as best, are all the same!

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13. Writing Competition and Call for Submissions: Jabberwock Review

Jabberwock Review invites submissions to:

THE NANCY D. HARGROVE EDITORS’ PRIZE FOR FICTION AND POETRY 


DEADLINE: March 15, 2015


· Each winner (one for fiction and one for poetry) receives $500 and publication in Jabberwock Review.

· Entry Fee: $15, which includes a one-year subscription.

· Go to our website for more information and to submit using Submittable.

· We are also open for regular submissions in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Send us your best work!

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14. Pursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint



Pursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint



Terry Hooper-Scharf
Paperback, 
A4
249 Pages
Highly illustrated
Price: £15.00
2013 UP DATE -From Dead Aquatic (Humanoid) Creatures, the giant squid and yet undiscovered sea creatures; submarine and ships crews encountering true leviathans.

There is a fully expanded section which also refers to the so-called ‘Ningen’ sightings and video footage. 
Extinct animals at sea that have been re-discovered. The subject of Sasquatch and other mystery Hominids around the world is dealt with including a look at the “Sasquatch-killer”, Justin Smeja.

Dr. Bryan Sykes and his DNA test results for TVs The Bigfoot Files as well as the controversial Erickson Project and Dr. Melba Ketchum’s Even more controversial Sasquatch DNA test results.

Also included are two early French UFO entity cases that still baffle. Ghosts, strange creatures and the Star-Child hoax. All dealt with by the naturalist and pursuer of the strange and weird

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15. Call for Poetry Submissions: The Inflectionist Review

The Inflectionist Review is a small press publishing stark and distinctive contemporary poetry that fosters dialog between the reader and writer, between words and their meanings, between ambiguity and concept. Each issue gathers established and emerging voices together toward the shared aim of unique expression that resonates beyond the author’s world, beyond the page, and speaks to the universality of human language and experience. 

Submissions for Issue 4 are open at the moment.

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16. this morning's mail

Story connects us in ways we will never know. This just in: here is a letter passed on to me from a friend who gave REVOLUTION to her 72-year-old aunt in Texas. It now becomes a primary source document for future researchers. Just as important, it serves to show how a heart becomes awake and aware in the world. I was the storyteller for Mary, and now Mary is the storyteller for me. This is how it works. I am grateful. xo Debbie
============
January 23
Oh, Sally,

Thank you so much for making me aware of Revolution. It has unleashed a torrent of conflicting emotions and memories in me, none of which were completely forgotten, but largely dormant.

On one hand, it reads like a barn burner, and I do not want to put it down. I love the way she worked photographs, gospel and folk song lyrics, and headlines as page dividers creating a sense of the onslaught of information which occurred that summer. (It does remind me of your saying fiction can sometimes convey events better than dry history. But she does include a lot of what to me is not dry history.)

On the other hand, because of the flood of memories and the poignant strength of the emotions they evoke in me, I can only read it in segments, sometimes as much as a chapter, but usually less. Than I have to meditate on what is happening in me, in the story, and in our country now.

Since it was published by Scholastic Press, I guess it is geared to middle schoolers. My only sorrow is that many adults who would benefit from tumbling into its pages will not find out what they are missing....

For myself, I read the book on about five levels. Four come from memories: the first as a middle schooler, one in high school, one the summer after graduation from college (1963), and one in 1964 when I was at the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City. The fifth is that of an aging Democrat who worked the phones for Obama in 2008, delighted in our long-term success.

The student at Gilmer Junior High got in the car with your grandfather, heard the news about Brown vs Topeka on NBC news (and later CBS) and asked Grampy, "Does that mean I will be going to school with colored kids?"

In high school, I heard Larry Pittmon and others threaten to get baseball bats and beat up N----rs who tried to come to Gilmer High. An elderly Black had died, and the relatives who went to California and elsewhere had come to town in their finest to attend the funeral. This was at the same time that the Airborne and the National Guard were confronting each other at Central High School, Little Rock. In our ignorance of how groups like COFO would operate, rumor had it that the fancy dressed black people were members of the NAACP planning to integrate the school.

The summer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, I had attended a workshop by the National Conference of Christians and Jews and then stayed in Dallas to learn typing at a business school. Having no TV of my own, I went to the apartment complex recreation building to watch the march. That night I joined one of the Black members of my class with her boy friend in the Hall Street Ghetto in Dallas for supper. We talked for hours about what that huge crowd meant for the future of Blacks in America.


The next summer, after my rookie year as a Dallas public school teacher, I had a job with the State Department in July and August, 1964. Mother and Daddy honored my experiences in college in a sit-in on the SMU campus and in that workshop the year before by letting me write the editorial response of The Gilmer Mirror to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the Public Accomodations Act).

Then I traveled to DC in late June, went to the White House as a guest of Lady Bird and Lyndon the night of my 23rd birthday, and went to work in the Personnel Department of the State Department.
The deputy director of the division I was in was a Black man. A fellow deacon of his church, the assistant superintendent of the DC schools, was shot down that summer as he drove back from his reserve duty at Ft. Bragg. He was a reserve Colonel in the US Army who was chased down after buying gas by hooligans in a pickup and shot. I can still see him that Monday morning when I came to work telling the Personnel Services Division chief, an older (55-60) white woman of the shooting.

Unlike the volunteers at Freedom Summer who sweltered in Mississippi, I got to go to the cool serenity of the Washington National Cathedral and hear a mixed choir of over 250 voices sing in thanksgiving of the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

I read the headlines in the Washington Post about their efforts as I went to Capitol Hill to see the War on Poverty legislation accepted in the US Senate after the House had approved their portion.
Then in August, I joined Nana in New York City, attended Hello Dolly with Carol Channing (my adventuresome summer like Sunny wonders about) and to the New York World's Fair. From there we took the train to Atlantic City.

Selling pennants and buttons to raise funds for the Democratic Party as a Young Person for LBJ, I met youths from Philadelphia, MS who were there with representatives of the Freedom Democratic Party of Mississippi. When they learned my mother was a delegate, they lobbied me to ask her to vote for their group to be seated.

I told Nana about them, but LBJ was trying to court Mississippi votes, and did not want to ruffle more feathers until after the election. She of course did what LBJ wanted.

It would be four years later when I had promised Nana I would take the first job I was offered that I went to work for the Dallas OIC. You know what an impact that had on me. I was tempted by the Peace Corps, but Nana would never have let me go to an undeveloped country. I always think the Lord had a hand in the fact that OIC gave me my first job offer after grad school.

Well, enough meditation for now. I still have half the book to read, and I am mentally compiling a list of people to make aware of it. I definitely will see to it our Intermediate and Junior High Schools as well as the Upshur County Library have copies.

If you with to share these reflections with your friend, the author, you are welcome to do so. I am so proud you made me aware of it. Thank you so very much.
Love, Mary

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17. Manatee Mom & Calf

This remains one of my all time favorite illustrations.  Not so much for the technical aspect but I feel I captured the love of mother and calf when they are reunited in the story.  I love illustrations, by any artist, that go beyond the words and capture the feeling.





illustration from
MANATEE WINTER
by StevenJames Petruccio

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18. Anton Chekhov's Selected Stories: A Norton Critical Edition edited by Cathy Popkin


My name is Matthew and I am a Norton Critical Edition addict.

Hardly a term has gone by without my assigning students at least one NCE, both when I was a high school teacher and especially now that I'm teaching college students. (This term, it's The Red Badge of Courage.) I have been known to change syllabi each term just to try out new NCEs with students. I have bought NCEs for myself even of books that I already owned in multiple other editions. I have all four editions of the NCE of Heart of Darkness because the changes between them fascinate me. (I've been meaning to write a blog post or essay of some sort about those changes. I'll get to it one day.)

Anton Chekhov is my favorite writer, a writer whose work I've been reading and thinking about for all of my adult life. The Norton Critical Editions of Chekhov's stories and plays published in the late 1970s remained unchanged until Laurence Senelick's Selected Plays came out in 2004, and then, finally, last year Cathy Popkin's Selected Stories. Senelick's collection is good, and probably all that the average reader needs, though I'm more partial to Senelick's true masterpiece, the Complete Plays, which is awe-inspiring.

Popkin's Selected Stories is something more again, and easily the best single-volume collection of Chekhov in English. This is the place to start if you've never read Chekhov, and it's a great resource even for seasoned Chekhovians. I'll go further than that, actually: Because of the critical apparatus, this is a great resource for anyone interested in fiction, translation, and/or writing; and it is one of the most interesting Norton Critical Editions I know, almost as impressive as my favorite NCEs, Things Fall Apart and The English Bible.

Popkin made the interesting and valuable choice to not only include stories from multiple translators (including new commissions), but to foreground the act of translation by including helpful descriptions of each translator's approach and methodology, as well as short passages from multiple stories in numerous translations for comparison:

sample of the Comparison Passages section

Further, Popkin frequently offers a perspective on the translation of an individual story in the first footnote for it, and sometimes in subsequent footnotes that point out particular choices the translator made.

The foregrounding of translation allows Popkin to bring in essays in the critical section that focus on Chekhov as a stylist, something Ralph Matlaw, editor of the previous edition, specifically avoided because he thought it made no sense to talk about "since the subtleties of Chekhov's style are lost in translation." Popkin's contention is that this no longer needs to be true, if it ever was.

What we have here, then, is not only a book of Chekhov stories plus some biographical and critical material, but a book about aesthetics and writing. One of the critical disputes that Popkin highlights, both in her introduction and in her selection of essays, is a longstanding one between critics who believe every detail in the stories has a particular purpose and function, and critics who believe that Chekhov's art (and philosophy) resides in the very extraneousness and randomness of some of his details. There is, as Popkin notes, no solution to this question, and plenty of readers (I'm one of them) believe that in a certain way both interpretations can be correct — but the value here is that Popkin is able to make the critical dispute one that is not only about Chekhov, but about writing, realism, and the reader's experience of the text. Attentive readers of this Selected Stories will thus not only gain knowledge of Chekhov's work, but will also participate in the exploration of aesthetics: the aesthetics of the stories as well as the aesthetics of translation.

Inevitably, I have one complaint and a few quibbles. The complaint is that the physical book is terribly bound — the binding of my copy broke when I opened it, and continued to break whenever I opened to anything in the middle of the book. No pages have yet fallen out, but they could soon. This is unusual for a Norton book — The English Bible is huge and only one year older than Selected Stories and its bindings (2 big volumes) are very strong; my copy of the 1979 NCE of Chekhov's stories, purchased at the earliest 15 years ago, seems unbreakable. I hope the problem with this new book is an anomaly.

My quibbles are purely those of anyone who has their own particular favorites among Chekhoviana. I detest Ronald Hingley's imperialist atrocities of translations, and though I know they're necessary for this volume because they offer such stark contrast to other translations, why why why did Popkin have to include Hingley's translation of perhaps my favorite Chekhov story, "Gusev"?! At least she could have included somebody — anybody! — else's translation alongside it. (Indeed, I think it would have been helpful for the book to choose one complete story to offer in multiple translations. "Gusev" is probably too long, but Chekhov wrote a number of quite short stories that have been translated numerous times.)

The selection of stories in this edition is almost completely superior to Matlaw's, but it's unfortunate to lose the 1886 story "Dreams", which seems to me a perfect encapsulation of Chekhov's style between his early humorous sketches and his later, longer stories ... but it's easily available elsewhere.

One significant improvement Popkin makes over Matlaw's previous edition is the inclusion of some of Chekhov's longer stories, most significantly "Ward No. 6" and "In the Ravine", two of his most important works. The book is already almost 700 pages, so obviously novellas such as "My Life" and "The Steppe" — hugely important, original, difficult, complex, breathtaking works — wouldn't fit without bumping out a lot of other worthwhile material, but still I pine. Perhaps Selected Stories will be successful enough that Norton will consider a Critical Edition called Chekhov's Novellas...

Finally, it might have been nice to include something on the adaptation of Chekhov's stories to theatre, film, and television — though of course his plays are more frequently adapted, some of the better adaptations are of the short stories, and there's been at least a little bit of critical attention to that. Adaptation is another form of translation, and it would have been interesting to consider that further within the frame that Popkin set up.

But really, these are the inevitable, unimportant quibbles of the sort that any anthology causes in a reader familiar with the territory. Popkin's edition of the Selected Stories is a book to celebrate and savor, and it gets so many things right that it is churlish to complain about any of it. Even the cover is a smart, appropriate choice: a painting by Chekhov's friend Isaac Levitan.

This book is clearly the result of lots of love for Chekhov, and as such I can only love it back.

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19. Now WHY Would So Many People Be Checking Out This Review? A Re-post:Titan Books:The Secret Service -Kinsman

The Secret Service - Kingsman

Millar & Vaughn
Art: Dave Gibbons
Full Colour
160 pp
US Trade Size
ISBN: 9781781167038
£9.99   
Available 1st April, 2014

http://titanbooks.com/the-secret-service-kingsman-6985/

Gary’s life is going nowhere. He lives in public housing with his mother and spends his nights carousing with his friends. But Gary’s Uncle Jack has taken a different path of glamour, danger and mystery. 

When Jack has to get his nephew out of trouble, their lives are going to intersect in a way neither of them could have foreseen. From Mark Millar (Kick-Ass) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen).

Soon to be a blockbuster movie!

I would like to make it VERY clear that my garotting the postman for heavily shoving another book through the letter box had absolutely nothing to do with this book.
Firstly, despite what you might read, garotting takes a while and can be a bit noisy.  Cheese-wire is best. Quick and silent.  Nothing written on a blog can be used in evidence, right?
Now the book.....
Well, I saw "Mark Millar" and thought "swear swear swear pointless violence -same old!" The only thing that attracted me to the book was Dave Gibbons.  Most comic readers will only know Gibbons from the super hero comics though he is far, far more versatile.  He is also quite a nice man and has a good streak of humour in him.
So, we have a big time Secret Service uncle who recruits his nephew from the tough council estate -I think most readers might recognise similarities between the "rough area" depicted so well by Gibbons in the book to ones they know.
I know this was first published in Clint magazine (which I've never read) so a collected book is a wonderful thing, baby.  Titan Books have great production quality and when I received this one I thought I might be dismissive of it, even if Gibbons was involved. So?  Well, I browsed though it and then realised I was reading the book straight though...then going back to check things out again. 
Now, I generally browse through a book. Put it down and then look again later.  That I sat down and read it all in one go says a lot for the story and the great art and, I really cannot ignore him -the colour work of Angus McKie which is EXCELLENT.
I am giving away no spoilers.  I even had to select pages to ensure nothing gets given away. This is probably -remember it is only March- one of the best English language books I've received so far this year.  
VERY recommended.

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20. Some Things Strange & Sinister -Who Needs Sensationalism!

Some Things Strange & Sinister
 
A4 Format
B&W
Paperback
358 pages
Heavily illustrated
Price: £20.00
After more than 30 years as an investigator and more than forty as a naturalist,the author has opened some of the many files he has accumulated dealing with such things as.. 
 
The Terrifying Events At The Lamb Inn, The Ghosts Of All Saints Church, Dead Aquatic Creatures of Canvey Island, captured bigfoot like creatures in India -all exclusively presented for the first time and with new added research previously unseen. 
 
PLUS a vastly expanded section on Spring-heeled Jack! 
 
Photographs, maps, line drawings and up-dated to make 358 pages looking at Things truly Strange and Sinister. 
 
Cryptozoologist,Ghost Hunter,Ufologist or Fortean:this book has something for everyone -including the just plain inquisitive!

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21. Poetry Competition: Singapore Poetry

The Singapore Poetry Contest
Since its beginning in October 2013, Singapore Poetry has the goal of introducing the arts of Singapore to a general American audience. Operating out of New York City, it aims to cultivate dialogue and understanding between the two countries. To celebrate Singapore’s 50th year of political independence this year, Singapore Poetry will seek American perspectives on the island-state by holding a contest for the best poem in English about Singapore. The contest is open to anyone living in the USA who is not a Singaporean.
The poem may be about any aspect of Singapore — for instance, an OkCupid profile, an old black-and-white movie, Singapore noodles, a recurring nightmare, the orchid Vanda Miss Joaquim, a family heirloom — but it must have the word “Singapore” in it. It does not have to be celebratory in tone, but it must possess the qualities of a good poem, nicely defined by Dylan Thomas as “a contribution to reality.” For a good example, read Vijay Seshadri’s "Light Verse" from his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection 3 Sections.
Awards of USD100, 50 and 20 will go to the top three winners. The winning poems will be published on Singapore Poetry; non-winning poems will be considered for publication as well. The judge is the curator of Singapore Poetry, Jee Leong Koh. Friends and associates are welcomed to submit. Judging will be based solely on poetic merit. Singapore Poetry reserves the right not to make any or all awards, should the quality of entries not merit them.
Contest entry is free. Please submit a maximum of three poems. Only unpublished poems will be considered. Posting on weblog, Facebook and other social media does not constitute publication. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, provided you inform Singapore Poetry if your poem is accepted elsewhere. Please email your submission to:
 jeeleong.kohATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to .)
The poem(s) must be pasted into the body of the email, together with a short cover letter giving your name, mailing address, and brief biographical note.
The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015. Results will be announced in August and the winning poems published in the run-up to Singapore’s National Day on August 9.

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22. The Red Paper -Canids

The research took almost 40 years on some aspects (starting in 1977) and if there is one book I have to hold up and momentarily get an ego over it is this one. Wolves, foxes -including arctic foxes- Jackals and coyotes in the UK. Many exotics just released to hunt or simply dumped/escapees.

 The history of foxes in the UK and how they were about to become extinct (there may be no such thing as a true "British fox" now) but were imported in their thousands each year "for sport" -even I sat dumbfounded when I made certain discoveries such as stabling foxes, what "bagging a fox" REALLY meant and more.

One naturalist of 60 years read it and called it "The most explosive book on British wildlife ever" and yet, not a single copy has ever sold.

And my old colleagues at the British Naturalist Association....I like to call them "the opposition" now.


 The Red Paper:CANINES vol.1
THE RED PAPER
A4 format
 Paperback,
202 Pages
Many illustrations and photographs
Price: £20.00
Up-dated 2011 edition includes section on sarcoptic mange in foxes and treatment plus a list of wildlife sanctuaries and rescue centres in the UK. By the 1700s the British fox was on the verge of extinction and about to follow the bear and wolf having been hunted for sport for centuries. The answer was to import thousands of foxes per year for sport. But foxes kept dying out so jackals were tried. Some were caught, some escaped. Even wolves and coyote were released for hunting. 
 
The summation of decades of work (1977-2011 and still ongoing) and research reveals the damnable lie of "pest control" hunting but also reveals the cruelty the animals were subject to and how private menageries as well as travelling shows helped provide the British and Irish countryside with some incredible events. 
 
The Girt Dog of Ennerdale is also dealt with in detail

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23. Writing Competition: riverSedge

riverSedge is a journal of art and literature with an understanding of its place in the nation in south Texas on the border . Its name reflects our specific river edge with an openness to publish writers who use English, Tex-Mex, and Spanish and also the edges shared by all the best contemporary writing and art. 

Submit here.

General Submissions/Contest Guidelines


Deadline to Submit is 3/1/15

$5 submission fee in all genres (except book reviews)

3 prizes of $300 will be awarded in poetry, prose, and art. All entries are eligible for contest prizes. Dramatic scripts and graphic literature will be judged as prose.


Multiple submissions are welcome in all genres. Each submission should be submitted as a separate entry. In other words, do not send two or more entries as one document.


Previously unpublished work only. Self-published work (in print and/or on the web) is not eligible.


Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please notify us of acceptance elsewhere as soon as possible.


Submissions in English, Spanish and anything in between are welcome.


Current staff, faculty, and students affiliated with UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville, or South Texas College are not eligible to submit original work to riverSedge.

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24. Melodrama

There's a fine line between having depth to your story and it being melodramatic.

http://kidlit.com/2014/12/01/the-melodrama-dilemma/

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25. The Week in Review 2/1/15

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I'm so glad the week in review posts are popular! I enjoy doing them too.  This week's is a tad late cause of the writing contest but I figure no one will complain about those!
Last week's review had a comment, on the Facebook link about how to build tension, from Mister Furkle:
Suspense is harder than tension. Your post, on Facebook, appeared to be about suspense not tension.

Please correct me if I'm wrong but:

Tension is needed on every page; it happens when a character is upset, two characters disagree, or the MC is trying to do something difficult.

Suspense is created when the reader doesn't know what will happen but desperately needs to know. Will the mission be a success or will the MC's party be captured? How will Anne Frank meet her demise?

Tension keeps the readers' attention while reading a page and suspense makes them plunge into the next scene or chapter.

Of these two, suspense is harder to create.

And if I'm mistaken, let me know. Also, any references to methods to manage suspense would be most welcome.

Well, you're not wrong, or mistaken but I think distinguishing suspense from tension will make us all insane. You did point that a good novel does need tension on every page: that's what keeps us engaged in the story. And we do need to be in suspense about the overall narrative arc.  How many times have we put down a book and said "wow, I sure didn't expect THAT" and meant it as a compliment.

Whether we call it tension or suspense doesn't matter to me, as long as it's THERE! 

Colin Smith mentioned an episode of Columbo called "Publish or Perish" where Mickey Spillane gets knocked off by evil Jack Cassidy.  Of course I had to see what clue the literary agent provided so I watched it on Saturday afternoon.  There's a small throwaway part where Columbo references "this guy, he's just a sergeant, he's had some books" and of course he means Joseph Wambaugh who was a detective sergeant in the LAPD when his first few books were written.  I'm not exactly sure of the timing here but this episode says 1973 and The Onion Field, Wambaugh's big breakout non-fiction book was pubbed in 73. 
Mariette Hartley played the literary agent, so I had to google those great old Polaroid commercials she did with James Garner (boy they hold up well!) and came across an episode of What's My Line from 1963 or so. James Garner was the celebrity guest.  More than anything else on the show though, the formal good manners of the guest, host and panel were amazing to watch.  The men stood up to shake hands with each panelist as they left, they refer to each other as Mr. and Mrs/Miss (Ms hadn't been invented yet!) and there weren't any sort of naughty undercurrent puns or joking references.  (All that changes within about ten years I think)


On Monday we were mostly watching for snow. The weather forecasters had descended into hyperbole by 3pm and when one of our office suite mates said the subways would be closing, the Minion and I looked at each other and said "we're outta here."  As it turned out that walk to the subway on Monday was the worst part of the storm for both of us. 

And the subways DID get "shut down" but only for passengers. The trains themselves ran all night which meant that the people who needed them most (people without cars working in service industries like food prep  and retail janitorial) weren't able to actually get home.  I was astonished to learn that Governor Cuomo made the shutdown decision unilaterally.  I ranted about it (and I'm still not over it!) on my Facebook page.

On Wednesday the topic was print book rights versus print and ebook rights bundled.

Pharosian asked: 
Janet - just curious about your position. If the "Hugh Howey of crime fiction" queried you about trying to obtain a print-only deal, would you turn him or her down? If so, why?

Yes, I've also heard that print-only deals are less likely now than they were when Wool made its big splash because there is a perception that the market has already been tapped out by the e-book. But I also heard that Woolwent on to sell an additional 5 million print copies.

I'd say no because I don't know where I'd sell it. The editors I work with are only interested in bundled deals, even if they only intend to print e-versions initially.  I don't know about Hugh Howey's sales figures but his agent is Kristen Nelson and she's pretty darn good at her job so I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear he'd done well.


And Kitty, oh my god what a blast from the past to hear about POD-dy Mouth again. The really interesting thing about that interview with Editor One however was that they were CLEARLY confusing self-publishing with print-on-demand.  POD is a technology; HOW the books are printed and in what quantities. Major publishers use POD to fulfill unexpected demand or shipment delays.  Self-publishing folks certainly use print on demand often, but they also use traditional web-feed printers as well. 
I hammered on that distinction for YEARS as I recall. (That interview was 2005)

 On Thursday's post about pub credits Julie Weathers said:

I wrote for a weekly, award-winning, national horse racing magazine for twenty-three years. In addition to doing race stories, I also did profiles and human interest stories.

I have had a LOT of people recommend I not include this in my query because this has nothing to do with writing fantasy. I did anyway for two reasons. 1. I wrote well enough for twenty-three years for a magazine to send me a paycheck every two years weeks (glad to hear that was a typo!). Two, it might demonstrate I understand the value of deadlines.

Julie's right. the others are wrong. Writing regularly for a magazine IS a pub credit to mention. If writing this blog has taught me nothing else, it has taught me the value of writing to a deadline six or seven days a week.  And regular writing is the ONLY way to improve. I'm not a novelist (although at this point the word count on the blog rivals some SF trilogy I think) but I talk about writing to writers a LOT and it sure helps to have some idea of how it works when I do so.

The only time you don't include magazine writing credits is if you've got a list of novels you've published that are more recent.

On Thursday's post about an agent who left a querier dangling, Julie Martin Munro summed up one of the biggest career-killers there is in writing:

I had a similar experience and my gut told me to do just what you've advised, but . These words I didn't...I was too afraid to rock the boat, ruffle feathers, I don't know what. I ended up losing a year of querying...and much hope tooalone "And I do reply" tells me I should've followed my gut. Thank you.


I cannot emphasize enough that this is YOUR career, and agents work WITH you; they are not demi-gods (ok, other than ME of course) to be approached like the King of Siam.








Turns out CarolynnWith2Ns has decided to do some painting! It's too cold here in NYC to paint yet but I'm getting the itch after reading that!


On the office front this week was the culmination of a move that started in August 2012. We ditched our old space on 35th Street for the new digs on 29th. Loved the new space, but soon found it had some limitations…like it was too small, and the Minion either froze or fried with the ac unit by her desk. 

When one of our suitemates decided to give up his office, we pounced on it.  After painting it, getting the phone/internet moved, it was time to move the rest of us.

I've always said "this is New York City, you can rent anything" and I was glad to discover you can rent handsome strong men to move furniture.  Jason was pretty amazing. He showed up exactly on time, started working, never sat down once, and had us out and in record time. 
Now the fun stuff starts: getting the books back on the shelves, the art back on the walls, and the liquor cabinet positioned.  Oh who am I kidding. The bar was the FIRST thing we set up.

I meant to post pictures here but as usual, time got the better of me, so the photos will have to wait.

I'm working on the blog posts for next week and there are some good ones! See you then.


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