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1. Window Flowers


Window Flowers | I am growing several plants right now a geranium, a pineapple, and a dwarf blueberry bush. I am having a difficult time deciding if they should be inside or out. Inside is too easy for them and outside is too harsh (It isn’t the heat it is the hail). So in and out they go and at least they are still alive.

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2. Winter postcard

10534597_10203176422424025_3483332701413905403_ncandy cane peek2 candy cane peek

It seems that those who hire love the speed of digital rendering, but want the look of traditional work.  So, in an ever continuing effort to make my digital look more traditional, I’ve been working on some new techniques. I’ve been leaving in the pencil lines, and in fact, adding a lot more of it…..more detail and hatching before coloring them in Photoshop. I also use Kyle T Webster brushes. They’re fantastic! I highly recommend them!

I like the look. You can see the person behind it. This will be my winter promotional postcard.

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3. Agent Building List

Leon Husock, associate agent at L. Perkins Agency is looking for middle grade and young adult authors.


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4. Nominations Now Open for 28 Days Later!


Happy Labor Day! 

As today is the day our nation has set aside for celebrating the myriad social and economic contributions of our American labor force (which all too often tends to go unlauded the rest of the year), it is more than fitting that we’ve chosen today to open up nominations for 28 Days Later-2015!

28 Days Later is The Brown Bookshelf’s flagship initiative, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Early Readers, Chapter Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by African Americans. Each day in February, we will profile a different children’s/young adult author or illustrator, hard-working African American artists who we’ve identified as creators of quality literature for young people!

The nominations we seek should be for authors, illustrators, or books that meet the following criteria:

*New Children’s or Young Adult book releases

*Children’s or Young Adult books that have “flown under the radar”

*African-American authors or illustrators

*Titles published by a traditional publisher for the trade market.


Nominations will be accepted beginning today, September 1, through October 31, 2014. To nominate an author or illustrator, simply post a comment here, or email us at email@thebrownbookshelf.com. Feel free to nominate as many individuals (or books) as you like!

Note: To avoid nominating individuals who have already been honored, please check out our previous honorees at the following links:

28 DAYS LATER – 2014

28 DAYS LATER – 2013

28 DAYS LATER – 2012

28 DAYS LATER – 2010

28 DAYS LATER – 2009


Thanks in advance for your participation in this year’s campaign. We can’t wait to see who you nominate!

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5. Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border

All Four StarsComplete this rhyme:

Hello, I’m new here, and I’d like to play
Maybe now, maybe later – or even all day
I’ll make you chuckle deep down in your belly
and we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…

You chose “cupcake”, didn’t you? No? What about “French fries?” Not that either? Ok, I’ll bet you chose “meatball!” Well, in the delightfully fun picture book Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border, a young slice of peanut butter toast tries all of those options and then some to round out his rhyming request for a new friend. Peanut Butter is new in town and his mom sends him out to make some friends. Along the way he is rebuffed by the likes of a hamburger, egg, alphabet soup and more before finally finding an ideal match in, you guessed it, Jelly.

This sweet story of friendship and acceptance is illustrated with photographs of three dimensional objects manipulated on a bright outdoor backdrop. Each inanimate food item is brought to life simply with the addition of wire arms and legs. One particularly adorable moment occurs when Peanut Butter encounters Hamburger as he struggles to walk his “dogs.” Terry Border’s clever and thoughtfully laid out scenes are silly enough to make readers of all ages smile and want to flip through the pages time and time again. Peanut Butter & Cupcake is a perfect read aloud for preschoolers and kindergarteners who will get a big kick out of the mismatched food pairings throughout. “Peanut butter and hamburger? Noooooo!”

Posted by: Staci

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6. When Your Child Won't Sit Still: Tips for Reading with Your Active Toddler

Reading to an active little toddler requires a certain skill set. Today my post is for parents who feel like it's impossible to get their child to sit down to read for even a second. 

If your toddler is anything like mine, he's climbing on the tables and chairs, throwing balls (or sometimes less gentle objects like blocks), and coloring in places he's not supposed to. One second he wants up. The next second he wants down....and what he definitely doesn't want is to sit still. 

So reading a story together? That takes actual effort! On my part, and his. 

What can you do when your toddler is more interested in climbing the coffee table and throwing books, than reading them on your lap?

Here are my best tips for reading with that busy toddler that I have found to work well. Follow these suggestions and I bet you'll begin to connect in ways that make reading more enjoyable for the both of you.

  •  Do an activity or craft before you read together to spark interest in the story. Make connections from your activity while you are reading for additional learning and repetition of concepts. 

  • Make reading aloud a more fun experience. Your child doesn't want to sit still? Then don't! Act out the story, use puppets, sing the words, or play games while you read. The bonus of this technique is that your toddler will be motivated to read again.

  • Let your child take the lead. Allow him to select a book that is interesting to him. If he seems more interested in the pictures than listening to the story, take a picture walk through the book instead of reading the words.

  • Take advantage of meal times when your child is likely to be strapped in his high chair. Sneak in a story before, during, or after his meal. Reading while eating is better than flipping on that TV!

  • Read before bed when your toddler is likely to be “played out”. There is evidence to show that bedtime routines that include stories aid in language development.

  • Did your little one “read” a book all by himself? Initiate reading on his own? Recognize a job well done. Give your child praise when appropriate which will help him associate accomplishment with the act of reading. 

  • Select books that connect to something going on in your life at the time. For example, if you are taking a vacation to the beach, read books about the ocean or sea animals. If the story is relevant, he'll more likely be interested in it.

  • Get rid of the idea of what a read aloud "should" look like. It's wonderful if your child sits in your lap while you read like you see in all of your Pinterest pins. Life isn't always ideal though. Read aloud while your child is playing. Even if it seems like he's not listening, he might be more than you think. He might even surprise you and wander over into your lap as you read, creating that picture perfect moment.

  • Read the same story over and over. If your toddler has a favorite book that he actually CAN sit still to listen to 100 times in a row - that's OK! Children learn through repetition. In this post, I share ways to keep the learning going, even when it's the 100th read through!

There will be good days, there will be bad days but aim for 20 minutes EACH DAY. 
You will be so delighted you put forth the effort!

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7. the news worth telling

I had 30,000-plus images stored in my computer, and the old Apple wasn't going to take it much longer. And so, for the past four hours I've sat here whittling those images down.

Reviewing a photo log is like reviewing a life, in miniature. Yesterday I might not have been able to tell you, as assuredly as I can now, that my photo obsessions (which may also be my life obsessions) can be divided rather readily into: family and friends, unusual (to me) places, portraits of children, my house in every season, dancers, and Chanticleer garden.

It seems that there is not that much more to me than this: I love those I love, I love to find and explore the new, I find peace in the sheltered quiet of this world, young people thrill me, dance is magic. I don't tend to photograph my vast collection of books. But I love the books too, of course.

The other day I was actually thinking about this question—the me of me. My son had called and had told me his news—the adventures he'd been having, the conversations, the outtings with friends, his river at night, his city from a rooftop club. And then he stopped and asked what I'd been up to lately, and I stumbled. I find this question a perennial stumper. What's new? What's up? It's a rare day when I have something meaningful to say.

Because most of what is new with me is what goes on inside my head. I read a great book. I had this idea. I was fighting with a sentence. I was lying down and looking up and I remembered my grandmother. Or I remembered Uncle Danny's laugh. Or I thought about a meal I once had and tried to resurrect the recipe. Or—oh, I know—I was thinking of painting the bathroom. On a good day I can tell you about a movie I've seen or opine over "Orange is the New Black" or mention that I've been to Adamstown and bought a pair of 19th century baby shoes. Or maybe I'll say (if I sense that there is time) that I lucked into a Hamburg hamburger festival, and that will be it: my news. A sentence or two, and I'm done.

What's new? Every time I'm asked I feel the Tedium of Beth coming on.

What is the life news worth telling? At my old age I'm still figuring it out.

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8. NOT JUST A DOT by Loryn Brantz

This new picture book looks at a small dot that is feeling unimportant.   The author uses a number of different pictures to look at all the uses for a small dot.    

Dots have all sorts of purposes. "How can this little girl ask for ice cream without you on the question mark?"   The author makes the dot realize how important it is in the world.

The reader learns that the whole world is seen as a dot if you go high enough.

This book takes a modernistic approach to explaining something simple and the illustrations do the same.  The cover is a combination of New York City and Outerspace.   The illustrations take me back images of the Jetsons. 
There are many books about dots and this title comes just in time for the International Dot Day Celebration on September 15.  Check out this new title

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9. Sneak peak to Hungry Dragon book!!

Copyright 2017 Heinemann

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This was an image I created for a storytelling festival but it was placed on hold until next year...such is the life of an illustrator! I wanted to challenge myself to include 30 animals yet keep my focal point strong. I could never have pulled this off 10 years ago. I love my continuing education in the arts. Looking forward to learning more in the coming years! It's available as a print right here!

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11. Witness Transformation

Her self-talk is brutal about how she never follows through on her writing goals, shakes her head at how many vacation days she's taken for the express purpose of writing the entire time only to veg in front of the television telling herself all sorts of loser stories about herself to herself, sinking deeper into despair and the impossibility of her situation.

That's all backstory. Her inciting incident in this scenario in her life is when she signs up with me. In the next few months, she shows me all of who she currently is -- her baseline data as it relates to this story at this time in her life.

The sacrifices she makes to afford to work with me does nothing to spur her to be accountable to herself. During many of the two-week periods between checking in with me, she does no writing at all. When she does write, she shows up session after session, ashamed of not writing more, not being good enough, not knowing how to write well enough. Drowning in excuses, her pattern emerges.

Rather than give her what she seems to be waiting for -- confirmation that yes indeed, she is a mess, a failure, unworthy -- instead I offer strategies to bridge the way from where she quakes on one side of the rapids to the calm meadow of acceptance on the other side. She keeps paying my fee and wanting to talk at the conceptual level. I keep dragging her out of her fears and into the concrete here-and-now, brainstorming one scene after another and reminding her again and again about the treasures waiting in her story -- she has a couple of fantastic elements that make for a rocking concept.

The moment she crosses over into the exotic world of being a true writer -- writing -- and leaves behind the pretender and talker about being a writer is the day she shuts off the cable to her house and removes the television. We both know the darkness this exotic new world she's entering represents to her and what awaits her. The resistance doesn't magically disappear, though it can by taking full responsibility for our choices. After a smooth month or two, her schedule changes, forcing her to write at home rather than in the safety of a crowded coffee shop. One of her beloved cats dies. The other beloved clings to her.

She's a sponge for any and all advice and support I offer her. She wants this. She wants to write this story from beginning to end. And somewhere even deeper, I hear her desperate cry to heal the festering wound she's been picking at all her writing life, perhaps her entire life.

I ask her to write in every room of the house (lots of resistance to her writing room) and keep a record of how long she writes in each space and how she feels writing there. Unexpectedly, she stumbles upon an exact right spot. When she compares her progress writing at that spot to all others, she understands that she actually likes to write there.

As fiercely as she longs to dabble in the safety of the beginning of her story, now, in her exact right writing space with concrete scene ideas, she writes into the exotic world of her story. The story and major characters begin to enliven her. As she grows stronger, her negative self-talk fades. Excitement and energy for her story build. Her own personal transformation begins.

Yes, a crisis likely awaits her. Still she's gaining the strength and beliefs and self-knowledge needed not to be felled by whatever comes as she writes deeper and deeper into her story.

A climax also await -- I have every faith in her (and in each of us) that if she wants it, she will triumph and in the end hold in her hands a completed novel from beginning to end with a plot.

Today I write!
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

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12. RIP Stan Goldberg

stan goldberg

Legendary Archie artist Stan Goldberg has passed away at age 82. The artist suffered a stroke two weeks ago. His passing was noted on his Facebook page, where fans are invited to share memories.

It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the passing of Stan Goldberg. Stan touched many lives through his artwork but was also a dear friend, beloved husband, loving father and doting grandfather. Through the years, countless fans shared how much his work meant to them and what a thrill it was to meet him or have a piece of his work. Stan felt just as strongly about all the people he met and would fondly recall the stories that fans would share with him.

His friends and family were what he treasured most. May his memory be for a blessing.

Goldberg got his start in the 40s as a teenager, working for Timely Comics and eventually drawing such titles as Millie the Model and Patsy Walker and heading their coloring department during the early Bullpen era. He continued to work on humor comics, becoming best known for his work on Archie titles, starting in the 70s and working on them until 2010. His most recent work for was for parodies in Bongo Comics and Papercutz. A final Goldberg story, wirtten by Tom DeFalco and featuring Spider-Man, will appear in this October’s Marvel 75th Anniversary Special

CBR has a fine obit for Goldberg.

Photo Via Godlberg’s Facebook page.

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13. Two Get Into Art Books

Get Into Art: Animals. Susie Brooks. 2013. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 If you were going to draw an animal, what would it be? You have so much choice, it might be hard to decide! Animals are a great subject for artists because there are so many shapes, colors, and characters to choose from...Look at the different ways in which animals have inspired famous artists--and then let them inspire you, too!

What a fun concept book for sharing art with children! Get Into Art Animals shares twelve famous artworks with children. Facts about the artists are given for each work of art. In addition, there is a recommended hands-on art project inspired by each work. A glossary in the back defines art terms. There's also a list of everything you'll need to do all the projects.

The Snail, Henri Matisse, 1953
Suspense, Sir Edwin Landseer, 1861
Crinkly Giraffe, Alexander Calder, 1971
The Bird, Georges Braque, 1949
Peacock and Magpie, Edward Bawden, 1970
Fish (E59), M.C. Escher, 1942
Carnival of Harlequin, Joan Miro, 1924-1925
Totem Poles, Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick 1991 and Ellen Neel 1955
Yellow Cow, Franz Marc, 1911
Dragon Wish, Chinese artist 1600-1635
Portrait of Maurice, Andy Warhol, 1976
Jockeys in the Rain, Edgar Degas, 1883-1886

The project for "Totem Poles" is "Crafty Totem." Making your own totem pole out of a cardboard tube and paper. But my favorite may just be "Colorful Cats" a project inspired by Andy Warhol.
Colorful Cats
Warhol's silk-screen method was complicated, but you can get a similar effect with a simple stencil.
1. On a piece of card stock, draw the outline of an animal and carefully cut it out. You'll end up with two stencils like these. (Cut out the eyes, nose and mouth on the second stencil).
2 Lay stencil 1 on a piece of thick paper and attach it with paper clips. Sponge yellow paint all over it.
3. When the paint is dry, lift the stencil and move it slightly down and to one side. Sponge red paint unevenly over it and then leave it to dry.
4. Now lay stencil 2 on top of the picture and sponge blue paint over the holes. Leave it to dry, and then remove the stencil. Cut out the animal and stick it onto a colorful background. (You can print whiskers by dipping the edge of a strip of card stock in paint.)
Warhol often repeated his prints in different colors. Try making a set like this. (27)
Get Into Art: People. Susie Brooks. 2013. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Can you think of an art subject that's always around? Just look in a mirror for the answer! Artists often base their work on themselves or other people. Some create portraits to remember people by or characters to illustrate a story. Others capture feelings, actions, fashions, or imaginary faces. The great thing is that people are all different, and artists can bring them to life in many ways. See how people have inspired famous artists--then let them inspire you, too!

I have really enjoyed looking at both books in this art-appreciation series. Like the previous book, this one introduces twelve works of art to children. Facts about each artist are shared. Each work is connected to a hands-on art project. A project materials checklist and a glossary are included in the back.

Vertumnus, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, about 1590
Weeping Woman, Pablo Picasso, 1937
David, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1501-1504
The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893
Children's Games, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1560
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1, Gustav Klimt, 1907
A Sunday Afternoon On the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884
Grotesque Faces, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500s
Egyptian Burial Mask, Ancient Egyptian craftspeople, around 3000 BC to A.D. 1st Century
Girl in Mirror, Roy Lichtenstein, 1964
Lawn Tennis, Eadweard Muybridge, 1887
Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez, 1656

There are so many great project ideas in this one! I find myself liking the projects better in Get Into Art People than in Get Into Art Animals. I'm not sure why! I like how the project for "David" is teaching proportion in drawing. It shows step by step how to draw a face (and body) in proper proportion. The Mummy Mask looks like so much fun!!! However, the example I'd like to share with you is inspired by the photograph action sequences of Eadweard Muybridge.
Action Snaps
To photograph your own action sequences you'll need a camera and a friend.
1. Decide what movement you are going to photograph. It's best if it's something that can be done slowly. Get your friend to try moving in slow motion and holding each stage of the pose. When you're ready to start, stand at a good distance from your subject so that he or she fills the camera frame.
2. Keep the same distance between you and your friend as you photograph each stage of the action. If your model moves in one direction, you should move too.
3. If you're photographing something quick, like a somersault, get your friend to repeat the movement and press the shutter button at a different stage each time.
4. Print out your photos and arrange them in sequence--or "stitch" them together on a computer.  (27)
I would recommend both of these books by Susie Brooks. 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Monday Poetry Stretch - Labor

Sorry I missed you last week, but with the start of the semester here, things got a bit crazy.

Yesterday during morning mass and the Prayers of the Faithful we prayed for those who labor and wish to do so. I thought a lot about that over the course of the day and realized how very lucky I am to not only be employed, but to be engaged in work that (for the most part!) love to do.

So, this is not very inspired on this day, but I want to write about work and labors of love. I hope you will join me. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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15. Ebb and Flow of Artists' Reputations

Norman Rockwell, illustration from 1917, "The Ungrateful Man," from the Google Art Project and the Norman Rockwell Museum
The reputations of Golden Age illustrators have risen and fallen over the decades. This Google NGram chart records the number of times their names have been mentioned in print.

Howard Pyle hit his first peak in 1900, but fell away after his death in 1911. He surged ahead in the 1920s, but I'm not sure why. Anybody know?

Norman Rockwell didn't enter the scene until around World War I. During his active career he was best known for painting 323 magazine covers for the Saturday Evening Post, ending that series in 1963. In all that time his renown never surpassed that of Maxfield Parrish. Rockwell's name was overshadowed by Pyle's until 1970, when Abrams published the book Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator. The Norman Rockwell Museum started modestly in 1969, expanding to its current location in 1993, where it continues to build his reputation as his name became synonymous with small town life in America.

The names Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, and Andrew Wyeth were mentioned about equally through the 1990s, but Dean Cornwell is not as well known. That makes it harder for museums and publishers to market books and exhibitions of his work.
Wikipedia--more about the Google NGram Viewer
The Norman Rockwell Museum

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16. An Interview with Author Marlena Zapf: Part II

I’m happy to re-introduce picture book author Marlena Zapf to you today. Last week Marlena talked with me about the writing and publication process for her debut picture book Underpants Dance. Today we’re going to focus our discussion on movement -- the movement in the book, Marlena’s background in dance, and how she uses yoga and movement for her author visits!

Welcome back, Marlena! I love how you left a lot of room for illustrations in Underpants Dance, especially when Lily is dancing in her room. “First she did this. Then she did this. Then she went round and round like this. Then she said, “TA-DA!” At these places in the book, were the illustrations by Lynne Avril what you envisioned, or a total surprise?

I feel so fortunate that Lynne agreed to illustrate Underpants Dance. She brings Lily’s spirit to life so perfectly. I believe that picture books are a dialogue between text and illustration, and so I deliberately left room for Lynne to do her thing. I only gave my editor a few notes about what I wanted (like the Toulouse-Lautrec in the museum scene) and trusted the rest. I was expecting Lynne to come up with new things, so I wasn’t incredibly surprised by the illustrations in general.

What did surprise me was that when I received the cover illustration of Lily, it looked strikingly like a dance photo of myself that had been taken that very same week. I will add that Lynne had NEVER seen a picture of me.

Your website also includes some other great photos of you either dancing or wearing that really cool tutu. Do you have a background in dance? 

I’ve always danced for fun, but I never studied dance until I was an adult. (My mother decided to save me from repeating her own unpleasant childhood experience with ballet by signing me up for Girl Scouts instead. I think I would have preferred dance class.) Perhaps it’s for this reason that people often tell me my dance has a childlike quality. I have fun, dance with abandon, and don’t care what anyone thinks of me.

As an adult, I’ve studied a bunch of different kinds of dance, and continue to take new classes when I can. I do something called contact improvisation, which is done with partners or groups, and plays consciously with the physics of gravity and momentum, as well as human connection — it’s a great metaphor for how we move through life and relationships. I’m also part of a community in New England that hosts what are sometimes called “barefoot” or “ecstatic” dances. Really what that means is you take off your shoes and dance however you want. For me, it’s a moving meditation.

School visits are such a big part of marketing picture books these days. How do you present your book to children, teachers, and school librarians? (A little birdie told me that it might involve movement.)

Lily’s story is really about self-expression, so I encourage kids to express themselves through activities that accompany the reading. And I don’t just stand there and tell the kids what to do. I engage with them. I’m certified to teach kids’ yoga and movement, so I use some of those techniques to help kids focus and then have fun with them after the reading.

If the children are sitting on the floor, I like to spread out colorful Yoga Dots, which I learned about from Rosemary Clough. You can buy them or make them out of old yoga mats. (Kids love to pick out their favorite color.) They serve a dual purpose. They give kids focus and a place to sit for the portion of the presentation for which they need to stay still(ish). Afterward, you can use them to play games in which the kids step, dance, jump, and move on or around the dots. This way, kids get their wiggles out, but the dots provide a focus that keeps things contained so that the “wild rumpus” doesn’t turn into utter mayhem. (Teachers are not fans of mayhem.)

Here’s a simple example. Set the dots around the space and play music or sing a song while kids move aroundthe dots. You might encourage them to move at a certain speed or with a specific movement. When the music or song stops, kids jump on a dot and assume their favorite shape or yoga pose. Repeat!

Wow. I didn’t realize you were certified to teach kids’ yoga and movement, too. You are very multi-talented! It’s been a pleasure learning more about Underpants Dance and how you incorporate yoga and movement into your author visits. Thank you, Marlena! 

In case you missed Part I of my interview with Marlena, you can check it out here. You can also learn more about Marlena on her website at www.marlenazapf.com!

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17. The First 90 Days

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded Michael D. Watkins

I picked this up because Jessica Olin recommended it on Twitter as a follow up to her ALA panel on leadership, What I Really Want To Do Is Direct. If you don’t know, last September I made the leap from librarian to branch manager and in June, I transferred to a much bigger branch in our system.

Basically, the book looks what leaders need to do in the first 90 days (with some groundwork to lay before you start) at a new job, whether you’re new to the organization, new to the department, or just in a new role. It helps ease you into a new role to be successful, and to be successful relatively quickly.

One thing I really appreciated was how practical it was. Instead of being full of blithe platitudes, it was full of stuff like “you need to talk to your supervisor about x, y, and z. You need to talk to all of your direct reports about a, b, and c. You need to map out these 6 things.” Parts of it are a bit jargony, but explained well, and do give a useful framework to think and discuss certain things. It includes a lot of charts to fill in to help you think about the things he says you need to be thinking about.

He really stresses taking the time to learn different things (and he tells you what you need to learn) before you hit the ground running, to make sure you’re focusing on the right things for greatest impact and that you’re doing it in a way that’s most likely to succeed without burning bridges that shouldn’t be burned. It’s just extremely helpful and doable.

While its focus tends to be on high-level private sector/corporate transitions, the overall issues and Watkins instructions scale down and transfer pretty well, even to a public library. (I see he also has one on government jobs, but I haven’t read it and can’t comment on if it’s more applicable.)

I liked that the final chapter was about how professional transitions mean personal transitions, too, and working with your family and other people in your personal life to ease everything.

It also gets points for gender-inclusivity--the examples of new managers were evenly split between men and women, and when it talks about dealing with your new boss, the pronouns switch from he/him to she/her every other section.

Overall, it was really helpful, and I highly recommend that people transitioning into a new role read it, but preferably a month or two BEFORE the transition actually happens. I finished it on day 30, and while I still got a lot out of it, I would have gotten even more if I had finished it on day -30.

Book Provided by... my local library

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18. Arise!

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

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19. Why Word Count Doesn’t Always Tell the Whole Story

word count

I’ve written here before about word count goals and how tricky they can be for a verse novelist like me. While my friends are cranking out 2,000 words on a bad day, I’m often lucky if I can hit 300 on a good one. Usually I don’t keep record of these sorts of things.

Unless I am, like when I tried my own version of National Novel Writing Month last year. The draft was absolutely awful, but the experience was a good one. It helped me realize fast and furious can sometimes be as beneficial in my writing life as slow and steady.

I’m working on that messy NaNo manuscript now. It’s due to my editor at the end of the month. The book is prose, and while it’s my third novel written this way, it’s the first non-verse novel I’ve ever sold. That’s made me fret a bit. I’m not sure if I know how to do what I’m doing. But isn’t that a hallmark of the writing life?

When I started back with the story, I thought it might be wise to keep a record of my progress. I set up a chart, all ready to watch my word-count numbers grow. But they didn’t, not really. Even as I moved forward, sometimes those numbers stood still or even found a way to travel on a backward path. So it was interesting to read at Project Mayhem a few weeks ago that many writers aren’t fans of using word count as a way of marking progress, either.

What do you writers out there think of word count goals?

PS – Those aren’t tears on my chart — just water that dripped off my cup. Promise!

The post Why Word Count Doesn’t Always Tell the Whole Story appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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20. Shades of Love (Cromorna)

Touches our soul,
So pure love,
A beautiful goal,
Naughty love,

Creator of smile,
Touchy love,
That makes us agile,
 Restless love,

Falling tears of joy,
Binding Love,
A harmless decoy 
Love and love.

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21. New Interactive Mystery Released!

The Mystery of the Circus For Hire is now released! It is the 6th book in the Crypto-Capers Series where the reader will need to solve puzzles using an Ottendorf Cipher. Children will learn what this cipher is and how to solve it using the book. The story is also history based. 

THE ASSIGNMENT: The Circus for Hire is a whirlwind of an adventure where the Crypto-Capers travel to Russia to save Max and Mia's parents, Mitchem and Martha Holmes, from going to prison for a crime they didn't commit. Finding themselves caught up in a scandal that is beyond their control, they use their skills and talents to try to outsmart the most notorious criminal of all time, but can they do that without sacrificing one of their own? Lies become intermixed with truth, yet, with the help of a new ally, the Crypto-Capers find themselves ahead of the game, but will they find the ending they're looking for? Puzzles of varying degree of difficulty challenge the reader in this award-winning interactive mystery series.

I hope you enjoy this new release.

The Mystery of the Circus For Hire

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22. Illustration Friday


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23. Sunday Funnies #18: Little Lulu

Back to School

From: The Saturday Evening Post September 22, 1943

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24. Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

On the basis of Beth Kephart's recommendation in her book Handling the Truth, I ordered a copy of Hiroshima in the Morning through Powells. The author Rahna Reiko Rizzuto received a fellowship to go to Japan in mid-2001 for six months and research her planned novel about the bombing of Hiroshima. What she did not expect was the wrenching difficulty (in a myriad of ways) of parting from her husband and 2 young sons in NYC and how complicated it would be to navigate Japanese culture and gain the insight she wanted on her subject.

This is a really tough book to classify because if I tell you it will resonate strongly with women who feel torn between family life and their work, you will probably immediately think of "Lean In" and not give it a second thought. But that aspect of the book is important and needs to be noted. Rizzuto's personal/professional conflict is so intense and so tied to the unique aspects of researching a book, that any writer who has ever felt similarly torn is going to identify very powerfully with her words. She wonders if she is committed enough to her marriage and motherhood and also worries about her own mother who is suffering from the early stages of dementia. Are there other places where Rizzuto should be? It doesn't help when her husband starts to rethink all of his earlier support for the project after spending one too many nights dealing with sick kids. And all Rizzuto can tell him is that she is talking to people, visiting museums and temples, "soaking up" the culture of Japan.

She might be more convincing if she felt more certain that she was getting done the work she needed.

That's the other impressive aspect of Hiroshima in the Morning--Rizzuto's discovery of how complicated the Hiroshima story is. The book has excerpts from the interviews she conducted with survivors and they are the very definition of gut wrenching. Rizzuto finds herself overwhelmed by the horror of those stories, (you will be too), and transformed by them. Then 9/11 happens and her family arrives for a visit and again her vision of herself and the world goes through another change.

There is a lot about this book that made me think about writing, history, stories, the power of family and so much more. So many times as a writer I have questioned the value of what I choose to do with my life and anyone who has ever been in that position will understand what Rizzuto goes through. But the stories from Hiroshima are what has stayed with me more than anything else and they make me think yet again how much our history is dominated by the way we tell stories, and our collective acceptance of who does the telling.

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25. Con Wars: What’s happening on the Cosplay competition circuit front

cosplay san diego

by Lawrence Brenner

[Editor's note: As a non-combantant in the cosplay wars, I'm not sure how much actual warfare is involved in this, but as with all things con, competition is heating up.]

Cosplay is one of the most visual and important aspects of conventions especially in the last ten years. It is one of the greatest and creative expressions of fandom, displaying a multitude of art forms combined. In addition, many cosplayers are employed in multiple capacities by companies to help in the promotion of their products, services, etc. Cosplayers themselves are also a new form of retailer for and at conventions (and con goers) who sell various products based on their likenesses as various characters and interpretations of from different properties, and this includes props and commissions. In fact, many cosplayers and photographers/videographers go to conventions to photograph and videograph different cosplayers and be the subjects of photos and videos.

Since the beginnings of many of conventions cosplay has been a part of them. (I was thinking of linking the io9 article about cosplay in the 1970s.) In almost all conventions, there are various cosplay contests with the largest one usually run by the convention, referred to as the masquerade. In recent years there have been rise of larger cosplay competitions with significant monetary prizes and cosplay competitions as part of a circuit on a national and international level.

There are several that come to mind that are very well known such as the World Cosplay Summit, the EuroCosplay Championship, the Madman National Cosplay Championship in Australia, and now ReedPOP’s Quest for the Crown Champions of Cosplay with NYCC hosting the Eastern Championships of Cosplay with C2E2 being the finals. They call the “Quest for the Crown” “a new global Cosplay competition circuit that celebrates the very best in Cosplay design from all over the world.” (Side note: I actually wonder why Wizard World has not created one of their own given the number of conventions they have, which has increased in the past year.)

From the press release itself: “The Crown Championships of Cosplay debuted at ReedPOP’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo earlier this year, and New York Comic Con represents the kick-off of a larger Quest for the Crown competition that will span multiple events, all leading up to a final again set in ReedPOP’s C2E2. ReedPOP, with over 15 events around the globe, looks forward to setting up additional stops in the Quest for the Crown from the US to Australia, creating a new, worldwide platform to showcase the Cosplay community.”

The Quest for the Crown Cosplay Competition Circuit is easily doable for ReedPop and it is not the first they have created. Originally, when there was a New York Anime Festival it first hosted a part of the World Cosplay Summit and then created its own large prize the Yume Cosplay Prize in 2009 that was won by the team of Yaya Han and Anna Raper, and had other conventions serving as preliminary rounds for the competition.

Since then ReedPop has expanded nationally and internationally with multiple conventions across the world including America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Their properties include NYCC, C2E2, PAX Prime, PAX East, the Singapore Toy, Game, & Comic Convention, PAX Australia, PAX South, Oz Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration, Star Wars Celebration Europe, among others that are sure to be announced.

There is also something very important to know: the concepts of pop culture conventions are global, some of them also having a “comic con” name but the fact this there are many all over the world on six continents.I have listed ten of the events from the ReedPOP site itself but the press release shows there will be more. Some of the events above do happen on multiple weekends such as those in Australia yet are still listed as one event, this occurs with multiple events around the world.
Now how does this lead into a new front for the con wars?

There are several some with overlapping concepts from prior aspects of con wars. One of these that has been covered is the dates. This is something happening this weekend as there is PAX Prime, FanExpo Canada (run as a part of a for profit series of conventions in Canada), and DragonCon occurring the same weekend. The time of a convention is very important because it can be the event to do that week/weekend. This is already know but unless you cosplay yourself you might not think about the time it can take to create a costume especially one for a competition of the level that ReedPOP is looking to do.

Let me emphasize that cosplay is of course for everyone, I cosplay for fun, and so do many others. The level of artistry even from those just starting in cosplay can be astonishing.

Now for competition you are looking to impress the audience and the judges. This was something seen often on the Syfy reality series Heroes of Cosplay and as such in a competition like “Quest for the Crown” everyone competing brings and usually creates new their most impressive and in some cases literary largest cosplays.

As such, there is time that has to be dedicated to the fabrication as well as the financial investment. The creation of various costumes can become an expensive proposition. Add to this the travel and lodgings expenses (which are usually split among a group). These cause an effect on who will decide to attend which convention for cosplay competition purposes, especially if they are not remotely local to the event in question. To attend such an event they might decide to forego other conventions/events to afford all the expenses of the larger event, possibly decreasing who would come to the smaller events. This is not as much of an impact but it is something to note.

The larger part of the con wars comes with the impact on other conventions, specifically those related to cosplay guests and careers via cosplay, and you need to know the above for this to make sense. Many times, we not question why someone is a guest of a convention; this is due to their bio. However, sometimes some have wondered that especially with some cosplay guests. Sometimes the listings include the number of costumes they have made and/or their high level of artistry or awards, and sometimes these awards titles are from smaller conventions or even the past conventions where they have competed. With larger titles and more mass media exposure which the largest events do have this can lead to becoming more well-known and having the titles of the largest events is something that can become part of a convention bio and can lead to the requests by fans to have this winner at a convention and/or for the convention to invite them as guests (and some guests have appearance fees [when I am a guest I do not have one]).

The second part is careers via cosplay. I mentioned this in the start of the article, that there are plenty of people who have cosplay related businesses which can entail commissions (making costumes and props for others), print and product sales (usually sold through a service like Storenvy and Etsy), being a vendor at conventions (where they sell the print and products at a booth), and sponsored cosplay (where cosplayers are hired by companies [some quite large] to make and usually wear the costumes themselves at events as part of fan relations, basically being the character). Sponsored cosplay happens quite often from American anime companies, many game companies, many comic companies, and many video game companies, the level of compensation does vary, but the larger the fan base you have the more exposure you can bring to the brand/property. I would not know of several properties except for the fact my friends have cosplayed for them.

Now think about these concepts applied on a global scale. Several of my friends from around the world who derive all of their income through cosplay. Several are brought in as guests and sponsored cosplayers for companies internationally. Now for the most part these friends have not been the winners of the major contests at events like those above, but everything can change especially now there is the global focus. If the cosplayers who do sell prints and products do compete and win in these larger events, it can cause an increased amount of sales.

What I am very interested in myself is the introduction of more international cosplayers from around the world. Especially at the global championships. Many of the international cosplayers that people are introduced to by mutual friends, from shares by other cosplayers and news sites, and from those who cosplayers come to international conventions. International cosplay guests are one of the rising form of cosplay guests. In addition, something to think about would be the global properties that these globally recognized cosplayers could introduce their fan bases too.

Now let us look at the categories proposed by ReedPOP for NYCC:
Costume Category:
• Comic Books
• Movie & Television
• Video Games
• Anime & Manga
• Fantasy
Something very interesting to note are the sheer number of transmedia properties that exist with characters. For example Batman, there are many variants and versions of Batman so how would you characterize different versions of Batman for a cosplay without adding qualifiers? This is partially done through the photos of course, but there are a lot. They are also missing figures that are usually inspired by all of the above, but for example the various characters from One Piece which itself is also a manga, anime, series of games, etc. There is also the potential here to think about the possible missing types like sci-fi, illustration, etc. The fantasy category is not descriptive enough and would this include things like Magic Cards? I think creating the categories might be more complex than simply having the open system with just allowing for the references to the said characters via wikis, websites, etc. Grouping by age, skill level, etc. is much different.

There are a few problems with the NYCC Quest already:

1. They already require you to have a badge for NYCC to entry for the NYCC Quest, which was difficult before due to the sheer speed in which the badges sold out of all types, plus the time this was announced August 25th. To make this a more fair entry to the competition they should offer complimentary badges to those selected for entry into the competition, especially at this late time, and provide some badges for their handlers who are people who help cosplayers with larger costumes or in some cases prep with makeup, body paint, etc. Handlers and assistants are also something that can be seen from Heroes of Cosplay. Because of this there may be and probably will be people with some awesome cosplays who will not be able to participate. Since this is likely to become a yearly event people will consider this when doing the badge rush buy.

2. From the rules: “Contestants are responsible for their own belongings. We are unable to provide a secure area for personal items. We recommend bringing an assistant to help with belongings. A bag check area is available at the Javits Center.” Right here they recommend a handler and this person must have a badge themselves which can lead right back to the problem above about not having a handler. Though I am sure they will be able to secure personal items temporarily, it should be offered to the cosplayers. I know of plenty of cosplay that is wearable for photoshoots and for the stage/parade but not walking around a crowded convention in. Hopefully, ReedPOP or Riot Games will also have a cosplay repair station, which would be very important in the case of damage or needed repairs, which is very important.

3. Also for check-in I would recommend having a place for cosplayers to get into their NYCC Quest Cosplay because the Javits is not connected to any hotel and you do have to travel from wherever you are staying in NYC to Javits and then to the check-in. The travel can be far even in light cosplay (and I mean light as in not heavy in weight) and it can be extremely complicated to get through doors and travelling even if only some parts of the costume are on, and this is not including such things as body paint and makeup, and fixes that would have to be made accordingly.

4. This also a shared concern about each of the possible other events because some of them have already started to sell and sell out of tickets.
I am not talking about the limited amount of entries because there could be thousands if it was an open cosplay contest like many conventions have because the time of the contest can go for hours along with the sign up lines, etc. Though I am wondering how many people will be a part of the NYCC Quest because they will be featured on the NYCC Eastern Championships of Cosplay webpage with their bios, headshots, and other information.
For an open cosplay contest: You can see things like this at the at booth cosplay contests such as the ones that Marvel hosts and theirs are at a very fast pace. I participated in one of Marvel’s at SDCC this because I had new Punisher props (I make documentation and identity props and had new digital props) and was asked to attend by Marvel staff. (I normally do not compete.)

However, I do expect NYCC Quest to be quite a show especially because it will be livestreamed, probably by Amazon’s Twitch as they have with other events such as those at PAX East. I do have a few questions about the livestream, at Special Edition: NYC I spoke with their digital sales person about adding closed captions to livestreams for the hearing impaired, so I am wondering if that will happen (post show they should be put on YouTube for later viewing).

This also makes me wonder about a new form of con wars too which may start happening which I call the “virtual attendee.” This exists to a degree via the livestreams that currently exist, but I was thinking about the cons that would start to monetize these in terms of selling tickets to them (for all the attendees who cannot attend the event itself) or by advertising.

Let me finish by thinking about how ReedPOP may do Quest for the Crown Cosplay Competition Circuit:

As I have noted there are multiple conventions around the US and abroad that are ReedPOP properties. The various PAXes can have prelims for the finals along with NYCC. These PAXes are on the west coast in Seattle, Washington, east coast with PAX East in Boston, Massachusetts, the south with PAX South in San Antonio, Texas and of course Australia with the PAX there. Through from the PAXes I expect rather large and very impressive cosplays from video games. I am unsure about the cosplays from the Star Wars Celebrations but I expect these to be impressive Star Wars characters, and there are a lot of them with more to come with new shows and movies.

I would expect see more comic and anime/manga cosplay at NYCC, C2E2, and the OZ cons along with the large amount of comic cosplays. However, truthfully like SDCC, NYCC, and C2E2 has all sorts of cosplay covering everything.

What I am interested in are the 15 events they will have. We already know of two with NYCC and C2E2, and I have listed several of the possible and likely conventions, but these are not confirmed and even with all these, this does not total 15 global events. I am very interested in seeing what will be announced in terms of other events. Back to the dates too, I am curious if any of these events that host major cosplay competitions would compete with other major cosplay competition events such as those listed above causing cosplayers to choose which event they want to compete in. If so would the other conventions look into changing their dates, even a week can make difference, especially when they host big competition events or prelims.

So there it is the new front of con wars, cosplay. Not only do cons have to worry about getting guests for the con dates before another con does, not only do fans have to think about what convention they want to go that weekend, but now conventions have to think about the other dates of other cosplay competitions, and cosplayers who compete may also have to consider what cons they want to go to, prepare for, and all the associated expenses. The wars are expanding and evolving, it will be interesting to see the battles.

[Lawrence Brenner is a global researcher, documentor, and educator on cosplay and other pop culture topics. His works have been presented at The Anime and Manga Studies Symposium at Anime Expo and the Japanese Cultural Institute at Katsucon and have been featured in many news outlets.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect that of The Beat or its staff.


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