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1. Harts Pass No. 223

"Finally feeling like fall!" And that's good thing :) Perhaps its the anticipation of winter (much adored as well), but I've always been fond of this cold and blustery time of year.

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2. Bob Eckstein Inks Deal With Potter Style

Bob EcksteinCartoonist and author Bob Eckstein has landed a book deal with the Potter Style imprint at Random House.

The new project, entitled Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores, was inspired by Eckstein’s “Bookstores of New York” series. The New Yorker published “part 1” in June and “part 2” earlier this week.

With this work, Eckstein will illustrate and write about the unusual histories behind several beloved independent bookstores. Senior editor Jay Sacher negotiated the deal with Joy Tutela of the David Black Literary Agency.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. Igor

"hump… what hump?" #inktober day 23

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4. Close-out Shop Sale All this Week

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.33.58 AM

SHOP here


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5. Air New Zealand Creates a New ‘Hobbit’-Themed Safety Video

Air New Zealand has unleashed “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made” on their YouTube channel. The video embedded above features the airline’s new Hobbit-themed safety video with appearances from actor Elijah Wood and filmmaker Peter Jackson.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “the video is, in itself, a sequel to the airline’s 2012 safety video, An Unexpected Briefing, which brought actors and characters from the Tolkien story onboard one of Air New Zealand’s 777-300ER planes.” Follow this link to watch An Unexpected Briefing.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6. New Tutorial: King Crown Art Pancake

 Exodus 20:3
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Wow, it's been awhile since I've posted a tutorial for art pancakes, but I've still been making them for my kids behind the scenes.  If you've checked out my YouTube channel recently, you may have noticed that I re-uploaded quite a few of my videos.  I wanted to re-translate the Bible scriptures that I was using in Arabic and in Thai (2 of my top countries that watch my channel are Saudi Arabia and Thailand). In the past, I've used Google translate but recently I've found actual Bibles in Arabic and Thai to use so this was an answer to prayer for me! Anyhow, that took awhile to fix and re-upload my videos.

Another thing that I've been doing since Spring, but haven't mentioned yet on this blog is that I've been enjoying teaching a children's all-girl Sunday School class at our church. I use art projects and art pancakes to teach the Bible. I just love teaching this class so much!  I would like to start sharing some of the fun things we've been doing in my class with you. I also use the same lessons from my Sunday school and teach them to my children at home and also the kids on YouTube. It's been a blessing to be able to share my love of God and use my gifts for him in these areas. 

Anyhow, I have been praying about what to teach next to my own kids, my Sunday school class, and the kids on YouTube and I really feel led to teach the 10 Commandments. If you've been on this blog for a few years, you'll know that I taught my own kids the 10 Commandments 2 years ago (and it took a year to complete) using art pancakes but I know that this is something that God wants us to talk about continually with our children and I'm looking forward to tackling this again! This time, I'm going to try to come up with new ideas for teaching this in art pancakes and this might be a challenge but I'll pray my way through........

Here is the link to my new video on YouTube or you can watch it here on my blog:



Ok, about the pancake tutorial...this King Crown is actually a sandwich that I made for my own kids' lunchboxes. I also let my Sunday school class make their own crowns in pancake art so that is definitely something you can do if you don't want to make the pancakes yourself. I can almost guarantee that your kids (boys too) will love pancake art.  It amazes me how much kids universally love pancake art because I've tried it with such a variety of children in school classrooms, playdates, and church. I shouldn't be so amazed though, since I love pancake art also!

Anyhow, this King Crown represents God because he is the King of Kings and with the 1st Commandment, we are to worship and serve him only and put him first in our lives. I had my SS class tell me a list of their favorite people and things and then I told them that they are to put God above all those things. 

If you're curious, Here is the link to all of my past art pancakes for the 10 Commandments.

Let me know if you give this tutorial a try!

Blessings,
Jenni

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7. YA Historical Fiction: INFOGRAPHIC

The Age of YA 200Historical fiction writers set their stories in a number of different eras. Readers can explore anywhere from the medieval court of King Arthur to the Renaissance studio of Leonardo Da Vinci.

The team at EpicReads.com has created an infographic called “The Age of YA.” It lists 140 young adult books that could help in picking out your next read.

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. How Did I Find My Clients?

I read a forum post this morning quizzing agented authors on where they found their agents. The authors were very nicely answering, but most of the answers were the same: "I did my research and then sent a query letter."

Why was this the most likely way they answered? Because it's the most likely way to get an agent.  It just IS. I know the myth is that you have to "know somebody" but that really isn't true. Which got me to thinking about how my clients found ME (or, vice-versa). And I decided to bust out the chart-making tools again because I know you like that.

So let's break it down:

56% of my clients came to me because of straight up query letters, from the slush. They didn't know anybody, they didn't drop names, they weren't published before, they didn't go to conferences, they didn't meet me first - some of them I still haven't met in person, because they live thousands of miles away!

24% of my clients were people that I'd met somewhere before they queried me. These are people I met at conferences, in a couple of cases, or published authors that I met in my capacity as a bookseller. (There's also a former co-worker in the mix, an SCBWI RA, and one of my neighbors. What can I say, she's a great writer!). The thing is: All these people STILL HAD TO QUERY. It's not like I said, oh, I know you, so sure... they still had to show me something I thought I could sell.

16% of my clients were referrals. This means that somebody I really trust - like an editor who knows my taste, or an existing client - thought this would be a good fit for me, and e-introduced us. But, you guessed it: These people STILL HAD TO QUERY, and show me something I thought I could sell.

4% of my clients were inherited from other agents at my agency. They actually are the only people who were kinda "grandfathered in," and did not have to show me something new to be taken on. However, I also trusted that they could write, that they had great stories in them, and that we'd gel well - and we spoke before I took them on. Still, this does not always work out, so I feel very lucky that these have!


Moral of this story? 

96% OF AUTHORS NEED TO 
WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER.

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9. A Visit With the Open Book Foundation

Guest blogger iconIllustrator Frané Lessac shares a recent school visit that she and her husband, author Mark Greenwood, did in Washington, D.C. with An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation

One of the highlights of our recent US tour was our visit to Washington, D.C. and our Open Book Foundation day, working with three second grade classes at Savoy Elementary.

The foundation’s mission is to promote literacy among disadvantaged children and teens in the greater Washington, D.C. area by giving books to students and providing access to authors and illustrators – and what a unanimously positive experience it is for all involved!

Frané and Mark at Savoy Elementary

Frané and Mark at Savoy Elementary (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

We conducted a ‘Meet the Author and Illustrator’ presentation followed by an art activity. At the conclusion of each presentation, the Open Book Foundation gave each student a copy of our book, Drummer Boy of John John, to take home, signed and personalized by the people who actually wrote and illustrated it.

Frané Lessac demonstrating the illustration process

Frané Lessac demonstrating the illustration process (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

Here are a few of the student reactions we received:

“You mean we get to keep the book? We don’t have to bring it back?”

“I can keep this book for my entire life. Even when I grow up?”

Wow! While the students might still be talking about the experience, so are we! The Open Book program is as uplifting and rewarding for authors and illustrators as it is for students. We will never forget the look of joy on the faces of the students, who couldn’t wait to take their new books home and share the experience with their families.

Creating art during the visit

Creating art during the visit (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

The fabulous Open Book experience breathes life into writing and art and the process of bookmaking, and opens up the world of reading to students. The Savoy Elementary students were so excited to leave each of our sessions clutching their very own book.

We cannot express our gratitude enough to the Open Book Foundation for the joy and excitement they bring to disadvantaged children. The Foundation’s program of bringing authors and illustrators to their schools, and providing books for their students, classrooms and libraries, is a wonderfully positive step to introduce a lifelong love of books and reading.

Frané and Mark with some happy readers

Frané and Mark with some happy readers (image courtesy of An Open Book Foundation)

To learn more about An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation, visit their website.

Frané LessacMark GreenwoodFrané Lessac has illustrated more than thirty-five books for young readers, several of which she has also written. Her husband, Mark Greenwood, is the author of numerous children’s books published in both the United States and his native Australia. They live in Fremantle, West Australia.


Filed under: Activities and Events, Educator Resources, Guest Blogger Post Tagged: An Open Book Foundation, literacy, nonprofits, Washington D.C.

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10. Leyla Aker’s Battle of The Planets (At Viz Media)

My final NYCC interview (Yes, this is it, I swear!) ended up with me talking to someone very important right next to people turning a contest wheel. I guess you’ll find out what I mean when you listen to the audio. (That’s me imploring you to listen to the audio version.) Anyways, I was able ... Read more

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11. The Difference Between Dreamers and Achievers

Editor’s Note: The following content is provided to Writer’s Digest by a writing community partner. This content is sponsored by American Writers & Artists Inc. www.awaionline.com.

Bootcamp2014Last week was our annual FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair

Over the last 17 years, it has become THE copywriting event of the year. And this year, 400+ aspiring and professional writers joined us in Delray Beach, Florida to have industry legends teach them how to build successful copywriting businesses — and to meet with over 75 marketers looking to hire AWAI-trained copywriters.

A lot happened in those 4 days … too much to cover in a simple blog. But I do plan to bring you some of the best ideas you can use on your journey to making a very good living as a writer.

Today I want to share with you something my partner Katie Yeakle — one of the Founders of AWAI — shared during her opening remarks …

She started by asking the audience a simple question:

         How do you explain why some people are able to achieve things    that seem impossible — while others only dream about changing    their lives?

And then followed it up with some of the popular examples of AWAI members who have achieved real success …

How does someone like AWAI member Joshua Boswell go from being over $200,000 in debt, with creditors knocking at his door and 7 children to feed — to making $20,000 a month working 20-30 hours a week?

         How does AWAI member Sean McCool go from being a guy who    failed English in both 7th and 10th grades to being a highly-respected writer who contributes directly to the bottom line of multimillion-dollar companies?

         How does AWAI member Starr Daubenmire go from being down-sized at age 60 … to a brand-new career that let her live her dream of spending 3 months in Italy … writing in the mornings, painting and exploring in the afternoons?

         How does AWAI member Cindy Cyr go from being in a job where   she couldn’t take time off to be with her sick sister … to today   where she spends half her time traveling the country with her 14-year old recording artist son, while still earning six-figures?

         Why is that some people succeed at copywriting … yet so many others don’t?

         What accounts for the difference?

         Is it education?

         Sean would deny that. So would million-dollar copywriters Clayton Makepeace and Dan Kennedy. Those guys didn’t go to college.

         Is it a natural talent for copywriting? 

         Cindy liked to write. But she didn’t even know what copywriting was.

         Is it sales experience? Not for Starr. She was a quality control  coordinator in an office. No selling going on there.

Master Copywriter Will Newman was a math teacher for kids with special needs; Krista Jones, AWAI’s very first $10K Challenge winner was an engineer …

         So what is it?

         The real answer to that question is right here in this room …

         The answer is: they took decisive action to change their lives

And then what Katie talked about next is what I’d like to talk to you about now. And, that’s the decisions that need to be made before you can successfully move forward towards living the writer’s life.

Before any of the people Katie mentioned took action, they had to make the very first decision of all … and that was if they truly wanted a change in their lives.

They all answered yes.

Next, they needed to decide how they were going to accomplish it.

Joshua, Sean, Starr, and Cindy all wanted to make a living writing and decided the best way for them to accomplish that was to pursue copywriting.

So they decided how they’d learn the skills …

They decided what support they needed …

And they decided what changes they’d need to make in their current lives to make that happen.

Next, they decided to follow through.

At every stage it was the same — a decision followed by action.

So today, I want you to give some more thought to what your version of the writer’s life looks like … what will your life look like when you’re making a living as a writer?

And then start making decisions and taking action …

If you’re just starting out, the first decision you may need to make is whether or not you want to make a change in your life. Is now the time?

rebecca_matter-150Or it may be deciding which path you want to take … whether it’s copywriting, content writing, web writing, or something else. (Check out my recent post on the top 7 opportunities for writers.)

And then comes the critical (and exciting!) part: taking action.

I’ll help you with that in the coming weeks!

 

Until then …
Rebecca

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12.

Your hope for Little John & Gayle keep you turning the page. Nightingale's Nest by @Nikki_Loftin http://buff.ly/1pA6Ohb #WeReadDiverseBooks CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS - NIGHTINGALE'S NEST by Nikki Loftin

from Google+ RSS http://ift.tt/1tlJEBi

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13. t's A Ruff Life Worth Winning

Hi Everyone, if you want a book that's filled with pizazz, action and comedy, then you've come to the right place to win the signed copy of It's A Ruff Life. But you had better hurry.  You have less than 36 hours to enter to win this ground breaking children's book.

Click on the link below to Enter.

Don't forget to click the Facebook like page at the top of this page.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

It's a Ruff Life by B.R. Tracey

It's a Ruff Life

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends October 25, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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14. Unveiling the cover for my new book: Blood Will Tell

BloodWillTellI'm so excited to share my new book cover with you. It's for Blood Will Tell, the second in my Point Last Seen series. When a woman’s body is found in a Portland park, suspicion falls on an awkward kid who lives only a few blocks feet away, a teen who collects knives, loves first-person shooter video games, and obsessively doodles violent scenes in his school notebooks. Nick Walker goes from being a member of Portland’s Search and Rescue team to the prime suspect in a murder, his very interest in SAR seen as proof of his fascination with violence. Then Nick's DNA turns up on the victim. How is this even possible? And can his SAR friends Alexis Frost and Ruby McClure find a way to help clear his name before its too late?

The series was inspired by the the real-life Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue, which is a teen-led group that not only rescues people lost in the wilderness, but also does crime scene evidence recovery for local law enforcement. This particular book was inspired by two real life cases where innocent people ended up in jail after coincidences were seen as clear-cut evidence. One involved a person's behavior, the other DNA. 

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15. New Job Openings at Nitrogen Studios, Cartoon Conrad and SUVA

Are you hunting for a great animation job? The Cartoon Brew Job Board is the perfect place to begin looking for your next gig.

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16. FOODFIC: Please Welcome Lynn Cahoon, Author of Return of the Fae

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18063459-return-of-the-fae



In RETURN OF THE FAE, Book 2 of The Council series, Parris and Ty take off on a road trip to Cincinnati, Ohio to the stay at The Riverglen, the only magical specialty hotel in the downtown area.  Even though the hotel is warded against a guest using their magic to keep warring factions from using the facility as a hot zone, the staff members are skilled in the hospitality craft. Including those in charge of preparing the food guests ordered from the room service menu.


Parris brought road food along on the trip, munching on peanuts and Skittles during the drive up from St. Louis, but Ty disappeared before they could order real food. So she went crazy with the appetizers list for lunch and ordered one of each, hoping he arrived before the food either cooled or she ate her way through the trays of yummy-ness. The chicken fingers were to die for, but Parris loved the onion rings, their crispy outside reminding her of food from the best drive-in back home, The Hungry Onion.


Later, the couple ordered dinner and Parris had one of my favorite entrées of all time. Shrimp and grits.


With my recipe, I add crumbled spicy sausage, onions, and a touch of garlic to the mix before adding in a cup or so of whatever wine is open in the fridge. Then I let the shrimp steam on top while the grits are cooking. I just use the recipe on the box to cook my grits, with maybe just a tad more salt. Then as they’re finishing, I add a cup of various types of shredded cheese and a quarter cup of sour cream mixing until smooth.


Line a deep soup bowl with the grit mixture, then ladle the shrimp and sausage mixture into the middle with a lot of the pan drippings.


Heaven.

I’m sure the version the hotel gave Parris was just as yummy. And as fattening. Of course, as a witch in training, the one thing she’s realized is she never-ever has to worry about calories again. Now that’s one magic trick I’d love to learn. 



Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Lynn!




USA Today and New York Times best-selling author Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.



You can find Lynn here:







Return of the Fae – Book 2 of The Council series

A witch in training, a hunter on the prowl, and a world in jeopardy. Learning the rules of being a witch takes years, but Parris McCall needs to master them in only weeks. Ty Wallace is going mad with his desire for Parris, but she’s a distraction in his quest to find Coven X before they take The Council and everyone he knows down. The couple searches for Ty’s missing mentor. Their only clue comes from a banished witch. Upon returning, a new life hangs in the balance.

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17. Cartoon Characters as Pancakes

Kevin Blankenship makes pancakes in the shapes of various cartoon characters. Is it art? Who knows. Is it a pancake? You betcha’! Here’s a pancake: Here’s a pancake: Here’s a pancake: Here’s a pancake: Here’s a pancake: Here’s a pancake: Here’s a pancake: Here’s a pancake: Here’s a pancake:

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18. Thoughts from a sensitive #6: Self

thoughtsfromsensitiveself


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19. Sky Jumpers: Forbidden Flats (2014)

The Forbidden Flats (Sky Jumpers #2) Peggy Eddleman. 2014. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

In the first book, Sky Jumpers, readers are introduced to Hope, Aaren, and Brock. Three kids who risked their lives to save their community of White Rock. Bandits had come, threatened everyone, threatened to steal the drugs that keep them safe from a deadly plague. Against all odds, these three manage it all. They take risks. They take chances. They face the elements. They cling to hope. They think of the people they love whom they are trying to save. It's an intriguing, dramatic read.

In the second, Hope, Brock, and Aaren will have to do it all over again. The world-saving. Not from bandits, mind you. An earthquake has occurred. This quake changes their community. It opens up a crevice, I believe, that releases gases into the air which interact with the Bomb's Breath. Life as they knew it is over. The Bomb's Breath is dropping lower and lower and lower day by day. Within a month, their community will lose its healthy pocket of air. But there is a tiny bit of hope. One of the adults knows of a mineral (or metal?) that can counteract and reverse everything. Their town can be saved if a) they send a team to a far-away community in the Rocky mountains b) if the team is able to travel to the town and back within the time period c) if the trade goes well in the first place. They send adults. They send kids. It's a good thing they send kids. Their guide is Luke. And for better or worse, Luke seems to dominate most of this book. Luke and Hope. The book is their journey to and from. Will they be able to save White Rock?

Did I love The Forbbiden Flats as much as I loved the first novel in the series? No. Not really. I wanted to. I did. But I was a bit disappointed in the sequel.

As the title suggests, this one takes place almost exclusively out of the community of White Rock. As this group travels together new communities and settings are introduced. We get a glimpse here. We get a glimpse there. Nothing deep or substantive. Mainly what the book is about is Hope's newfound interest in rocks. Do you enjoy reading about a person who becomes passionately interested in rocks? I wasn't. The main relationship focus of this book is between Hope, the heroine, and Luke, the guide they hire. Hope's relationships with Brock and Aaren are less important, I'd say. Hope has struggled with belonging in her own community, and, I suppose this book is suggesting that maybe Hope will one day choose differently, that she may find where she belongs someplace out there.

So I said I was disappointed. That doesn't mean I hated it. That doesn't mean I disliked it. It means I didn't love, love, love it the same way as the first book.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Museum of London Hosts Exhibit On Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock HolmesAre you a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth? The Museum of London is hosting the “Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die” exhibit.

Here’s more about the show: “Asking searching questions such as who is Sherlock Holmes, and why does he still conjure up such enduring fascination, this major exhibition – London’s first on the detective since 1951 – will explore how Sherlock Holmes has transcended literature onto stage and screen and continues to attract huge audiences to this day.”

Some of the items on display include notebooks, film clips, photos, and paintings. A closing date for this exhibit has been set for April 12, 2015. Follow this link to download a free digital copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. (via The Huffington Post)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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21. Waiting for Inspiration?

“Being a writer is not unlike being a medium; sometimes the message comes through loud and clear, sometimes it doesn’t,”   Joan Aiken said in a talk on writing ghost stories.  Perhaps this is particularly apt for those with a gift for sensing odd atmospheres or noticing the unusual in the everyday, as she certainly did, […]

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22. The Flat Rabbit

Let me say it right away: This is one strange book. After a first read, I was pretty sure I would not be reviewing it. Then a few weeks passed and I picked it up again and reread it. It's still a strange book, but this time I saw its appeal.

The Flat Rabbit has a simple plot. A dog and a rat come across a rabbit on the side of the road. The rabbit is obviously deceased, run over no doubt by a car. Yet this fact is never mentioned. The crux of the book is the dog and rat deciding what to do with the rabbit. They knew her vaguely but weren't close. Yet something must be done; they both feel they can't leave her carcass lying there. After pondering the problem, the dog comes up with a solution. He and the rat peel her body from the road and attach it to a kite. Then they fly the kite until is high above them and release it to continue its journey skyward.

What I found compelling the second time around was the questioning attitude of the dog and rat. Much like children, neither one had answers--or even were sure of the questions. Yet they didn't flinch from the subject of death and how best to honor a life.

Marita Thomsen translated Oskarsson's text from Faroese, and to my ears has done a good job. The minimalistic text is understated and at times droll.

"They could leave her outside number 34, but what would the people there think if they saw a dog and a rat bringing back their rabbit, totally flattened? No good would come of that."

Oskarsson's illustrations, done in pastel watercolors, are equally spare. Everything isn't spelled out for young readers; they'll have to make connections by closely looking at the pictures. Is the gray car on the facing page that shows the flattened rabbit responsible for its condition? The author/illustrator isn't saying.

Honest, secular books for children about death are rare indeed. Margaret Wise Brown and Remy Charlip's The Dead Bird springs to mind. My favorite, though, is Duck, Death and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch. (Read my review.The Flat Rabbit has joined this short list. I'm glad I gave it another chance.

The Flat Rabbit
by Bardur Oskarsson
Owl Kids, 40 pages
Published: september 2014

  

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23. Excuse Me, You are a Rock Star.

cartoon computer by bob ostromHi readers its another busy week here at the studio. You may have noticed me posting a few videos last week. They are for a new class I have coming out starting November 6th. It’s called, Advanced Line Art Techniques and focuses on the methods I use to create line art with Adobe Illustrator. It’s a two part class and is for all skill levels. If you’re interested or would like to find out more about the class come see me at: BobTeachesArt.com

This time of year things tend to get busy for us illustrators. That can mean long hours and a lot of time spent organizing schedules, trying to find new projects and wondering where the last week went. Here’s a little tip for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, out of sorts or needs a little pick-me-up. Go into your calendar and schedule a few positive reminders. Have your calendar send you those reminders on an alert at random times during the week. Next change the settings on your computer so it speaks your alerts. It’s hilarious and usually pops up right when you need it most.

Here’s how it works for me. I’m sitting at my desk after a long week of deadlines, maybe putting together some new ideas for a big program or something else I’m planning. The infamous artist’s self doubt starts to creep in and just as I begin to think maybe my high school guidance counselor was right and I should have considered a career as a pet waste fecal matter removal engineer my an alert goes off. My computer says in it’s slightly weird, slightly mispronounced computer voice, emphasis on all the wrong syllables ….” Excuse me Bob… You are a rock star!” 

Ok yeah, not quite as funny in print but I highly recommend trying it because even though it’s silly and ridiculous it reminds me to lighten up, get my head on straight and quit worrying about things I shouldn’t worry about. Thanks computer, you’re a rock star too…

 

 

The post Excuse Me, You are a Rock Star. appeared first on Bob Ostrom Studio - 919-809-6178.

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24. "...and the local library matters." - Bill Moyers


One of the best books I read this year and a truly important reading experience is The Public Library, a photographic essay by Robert Dawson. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, this is a gorgeously designed book of photos and essays on American public libraries, which I could not stop paging through.

Right now, you are probably thinking you know what the book is and agree with me that it's important and yet you likely have no interest in paging through it. A book like this is a good thing, but you already value libraries, right? You think you don't need this one.

Allow me to convince you otherwise.

I know public libraries matter on many levels. My hometown library had a huge influence on my life and I know that sentiment is the same for a lot of other people. So I approached The Public Library expecting an appreciation and I certainly was not disappointed on that score. But there is a lot more going on in this book, in the essays (by Bill Moyers, Ann Patchett, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver and more) and the photos.

Dawson shows libraries in a variety of situations: urban and rural, small communities and large, in remote locations and city centers. The design differences are amazing and the closed facilities are heartbreaking but what really got to me was seeing how really useful the libraries are in unexpected ways. Also, the issue of homeless patrons came up several times and the essayists were pretty blunt on that subject.

While I was reading The Public Library and pouring over the photos, what struck me time and again was that open, free libraries are not a gift for a community, but a necessity. They are an equalizing force between the rich and poor and as significant as schools and the right to vote. They can make the difference for so much that might be missing in your life and be a game-changer in so many ways.

The best case scenario would find all of our elected officials sitting down and reading this book. It's the type of title that makes you think and inspires action. (I feel like I'm getting almost silly about libraries right now but I can't help it; just looking at these pictures touched my heart.)

The Public Library--obvious choice for book lovers but an even more important one for folks who just don't get it yet and need to be persuaded.

Listen to an interview with Robert Dawson at NPR.

[Post pics from the book.]

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25. Sebastian Robertson's ROCK & ROLL HIGHWAY: THE ROBBIE ROBERTSON STORY

Decades ago--and now, too--I revel in the music of The Band. I was amongst those who went to see the film The Last Waltz. Of course, I bought CDs, too. At the time, I knew Robbie Robertson was Native, but didn't know much else about him. Today, I'm pleased as can be to share Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story. Here's the cover:



Thanks to this book, I've had the opportunity to learn a lot more about Robertson. Released this year (2014) by Henry Holt, the biography is written by Sebastian Robertson (yeah, Robbie's son). The illustrations by Adam Gustavson are terrific.

Robertson is Mohawk.

The second page of Rock and Roll Highway is titled "We Are the People of the Longhouse." There, we learn that his given name is Jaime Royal Robertson. His mother is Mohawk; his father is Jewish.

Allow me to dwell on the title for that page... "We Are the People of the Longhouse." That is so cool... so very cool... Why? Because this book is published by a major publisher, which means lots of libraries are likely to get it, and lots of kids--Mohawk ones, too!--are going to read that title. And look at young Robbie on the cover. Sitting on a car. Wearing a tie. The potential for this book to push back on stereotypes of Native people is spectacular!

In the summers, Robertson and his mom went to the Six Nations Indian Reservation where his mom grew up (I'm guessing that "Indian Reservation" was added to Six Nations because the former is more familiar to US readers, but I see that decision as a missed opportunity to increase what kids know about First Nations). There were lots of relatives at Six Nations, and lots of gatherings, too, where elders told stories. The young Robbie liked those stories and told his mom that one day, he wanted to be a storyteller, too.

That life--as a storyteller who tells with music--is wonderfully presented in Rock and Roll Highway. Introduce students to Robertson using this bio and his music. Make sure you have the CDs specific to his Mohawk identity. The first one is Music for Native Americans. Ulali, one of my favorite groups, is part of that CD. Check out this video from 2010. In it, Robertson and Ulali are on stage together (Ulali's song, Mahk Jchi, is one of my all time favorites. It starts at the 4:39 mark in this video):




The second album is Contact from the Underworld of Redboy. Get it, too.

Back to the book: Ronnie Hawkins. Bob Dylan. They figure prominently in Robertson's life. The closing page has terrific photographs of Robertson as a young child, a teen, and a dad, too.

Teachers are gonna love the pages titled "An Interview with My Dad, Robbie Robertson" in which Sebastian tells readers to interview their own parents. That page shows a post card Robertson sent to his mother while he was on the road. Things like post cards carry a good deal of family history. I pore over the ones I have--that my parents and grandparents sent to each other.

Deeply satisfied with Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story, I highly recommend it.  

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