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1.



Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus

The First ‘Chrismukkah’ Classic 
has launched on INKSHARES, the crowd-driven publisher

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Over one million families in North America alone celebrate “Chrismukkah.” Around the globe more and more families are incorporating the hybrid holiday into their lives, yet there is no “go-to” story about it for them to embrace. Until now. Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus will be cherished by every child who grows up in a Chrismukkah home, but it will  be enjoyed by all readers because it’s fun, funny, and full of heart.
Howie climbed out of the Hanucopter and approached his first house. He sprinkled some oil, then slid under the front door with his bag of gifts. Everything was going smoothly, a typical first night of Hanukkah. Or so he thought! There was someone else in the house, and he had presents, too–Santa Claus! When the shocked pair realized there were families on both their lists…It. Was. On. Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus is the hilarious and heartfelt story of how two holiday heroes wind up with the greatest gift of all for themselves: friendship.
About the Illustrator: Andy Catling is a professional illustrator with more than 30 illustrated titles under his belt.  See http://www.catling-art.com/ for more.


Reviews

“Hey, you got Hanukkah in my Christmas!” “Hey, you got Christmas in my Hanukkah! Mmmmmm…reads great!”             
Finally: a holiday tale that is affecting without heaping on the schmaltz. Meet Howie AKA Hanukkah Howie—who is to the Festival of Lights as Saint Nick is to Christmas—as he prepares for his annual trek to visit all of the good Jewish children of the world: “Delivering eight nights worth of gifts at one time was a serious shlep!” With Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus, you get exactly that: a festive arms race between two holiday heavyweights, each seeing who can outdo the other in terms of bringing some joy vey to the world. Of course, it all works out in the end, but if you don’t find yourself snickering at Slater’s whimsical world of Hanukkopters and other well-oiled contraptions, then you are definitely in the menorah-ty!
Dale E. Basye, author of the Circles of Heck Series
“What do you do when your family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah? You celebrate Chrismukkah! David Michael Slater has written a delightful story capturing the joy of the holidays with humor and sensitivity. A must read for families of all faiths!”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Penny Warner, Author of the award-winning series, The Code Busters                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
“A new holiday tradition deserves a new holiday classic read aloud, and David Michael Slater has delivered just that, right to our door, by sleigh and by Hanukkopter.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      David Lubar, Author of Hidden Talents and Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
“This is the most Hanukkacool book I’ve read this year! David Michael Slater is one funny mensch—and Hanukkah Howie is my favorite new holiday hero.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Bart King, Author of The Big Book of Boy Stuff                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       “Well, really, folks, when you get down to it, are Christmas and Hannukah really all that different? They are both celebrations steeped in the spirit of love and friendship, and who’s to say Loveship can’t be found in the combined celebration of both. Howie and Santa are onto something big! They just kind of make you want to hug everyone.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Graham Salisbury, Author of the bestselling Calvin Coconut Series and Under the Blood Red Sun
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Great fun! I always wondered who brought the Hanukkah gifts.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Eric Kimmel, Author of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
“In celebration of blended families and modern-day cultural, religious and ethnic fusions, David Michael Slater’s Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus has a unique, and refreshingly “real” take on one of the holiday’s biggest icons, Santa Claus. By bringing a new player to the game, Hanukkah Howie, gift giving becomes a cutthroat competition of who can “gift” better to win over those families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. And the silliness bar is raised with each encounter.
Funny. Unexpected. Sprinkled with laugh-out-loud lines, this book reads like a “well-oiled machine,” and will no doubt be a new holiday, Christmakkah favorite.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heidi Ayarbe, author of Freeze Frame                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “One thing I always expect from a David Michael Slater book is an outrageously imaginative story. In Hanukkah Howie vs. Santa Claus he delivers just that. But he also captures the struggle between competing characters and competing traditions in a way that warms the heart and enlivens the mind. You cannot read this story without wondering what would change in the world if everyone from different traditions could find the same kind of friendship as what develops between Hanukkah Howie and Santa Claus. We can only hope so. I want every child to have a chance to read this story and be touched by its magic.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Roy M Carlisle, Advisory Board Member and Editorial Consultant for Relish Media, an imprint of Little Pickle Press                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
“A book involving the true message of the holidays for families of mixed faiths in today’s world has been long overdue, and we hope that “The World’s First Chrismukkah Classic” will become a household name. This book captures the essence of finding joy and being with those you love around the holidays regardless of belief.”                                                                                                                                             
Danny Foley & Sarah Robinson of Watch for Rocks, Creators of “The Chrismukkah Song”                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At long last: the dueling holidays reconcile as Hanukkah Howie and Santa Claus discover Chrismukkah. This is the tradition-defining story that every blended family will want to read as they sit beside the Chrismukkah bush amidst an avalanche of presents.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Sage Cohen, author of The Productive Writer

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2. Identifying Great Visual Effects Work: A Short Video Primer

If you were voting to give someone an award for best visual effects, how would you judge the work?

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3. Sketching Characters


©Lesley Breen Withrow

Lots of character sketches. So much fun!



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4. "I Just Do NOT Want To Sort Through This Box!"

And with those words....I sorted through the box.

Go figure.

Papers, journals....hello....a piece of artwork?

Wow.  It was the original, pre-Letraset lettering, 1986 Black Tower ad that I thought had been lost years ago.  Featured are Wildmane, Runestone (the flying guy with the big moustache if you have never -WHAT?!- read a Black Tower book before) and to their rear, Team Nippon's own Red Dragon (when Black Tower had a super hero group).

You see -you can make surprise finds!


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5. 25th Anniversay Walk-for-the-Animals T-shirt FOR SALE

WFTA Anniversay T-Shirt-01

2015 marks the 25th anniversary for the Humane Society of Broward County’s annual “Walk for the Animals” fundraising event. For something special I was asked to illustrate and design a commemorative T-shirt that will be sold on the day of the Walk (Feb. 28th, 2015).

 

Part of the fun of the “Walk for the Animals” is seeing the thousands of dogs all in one place. There are big dogs, little dogs, old and young, purebreds and mixed breeds. There are dogs in wagons and dogs playing Frisbee. The “parents” of all these pets are as varied as the dogs themselves. There are vendors of every type imaginable. I can’t say enough how much I look forward to attending, with or without my beloved dog.

There is only one condition, no cats allowed at the event (but the money raised does go for all the animals the HSBC cares for, not just dogs).

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6. January Reflections

In January I reviewed 64 books.

Board Books:
  1. Curious George's Crane. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Curious George's Train. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Picture Books:
  1. Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups. Stephanie Clarkson. Illustrated by Brigette Barrager. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. Selina Alko. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] (Nonfiction)
  3. Glamourpuss. Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by David Small. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag. 1928. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. Dr. Seuss. 1937/1964. Random House. 40 pages [Source: Library] 
  6. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. 1938/1965. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The King's Stilts. Dr. Seuss. 1939/1967. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Horton Hatches An Egg. Dr. Seuss. 1940/1968. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. McElligot's Pool. Dr. Seuss. 1947/1974. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Xander's Panda Party. Linda Sue Park. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  11. Please, Mr. Panda. Steve Antony. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Early Readers/Early Chapter Books:
  1. Rescue on the Oregon Trail. (Ranger in Time #1) Kate Messner. 2015. Scholastic. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Eva's Treetop Festival (Owl Diaries #1) Rebecca Elliott. 2015. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Big Bad Detective Agency. Bruce Hale. 2015. Scholastic. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Dory Fantasmagory. Abby Hanlon. 2014. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
Middle Grade:
  1. El Deafo. Cece Bell. 2014. Harry N. Abrams. 233 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Operation Bunny. Sally Gardner. Illustrated by David Roberts. 2014. Henry Holt. 192 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. The War That Saved My Life. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 2015. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Red Pencil. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Shane Evans. 2014. Little, Brown. [Source: Library] 
  5. The Question of Miracles. Elana K. Arnold. 2015. HMH. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. Katherine Rundell. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 256 pages. [Source: Library] Mild spoilers.  
  7. The Perfect Place. Teresa E. Harris. HMH. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. The Windy Hill. Cornelia Meigs. 1921. 210 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. The Trumpeter of Krakow. Eric P. Kelly. 1928. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
  10. Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony Inspired by Historical Facts. Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Michele Wood. 2015. [January 2015] Scholastic. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11. The Paper Cowboy. Kristin Levine. 2014. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library]  
  12. The Castle Behind Thorns. Merrie Haskell. 2014. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
Young Adult:
  1. Audacity. Melanie Crowder. 2015. Penguin. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Infinite Sea (Fifth Wave #2) Rick Yancey. 2014. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. This Side of Home. Renee Watson. 2015. Bloomsbury USA. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. It's The End of the World As We Know It. Saci Lloyd. 2015. Hachette Books. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Adult Fiction:
  1. Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Case of the Velvet Claws. (Perry Mason #1) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1933. Random House. 215 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. The Worthing Saga. Orson Scott Card. 1990. Tor. 465 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  5. To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages.  [Source: Bought]
  6. Twelve Drummers Drumming. Father Christmas Mystery #1. C.C. Benison. 2011. Doubleday. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Eleven Piper Piping. Father Christmas Mystery #2. C.C. Benison. 2012. Delacorte. 474 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Ten Lords A-Leaping. Father Christmas #3. C.C. Benison. 2013. Delacorte. 512 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. 1937. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]   
  10. Jezebel's Daughter. Wilkie Collins. 1880. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  11. Trifles. A Play in One Act. Susan Glaspell. 1916. 20 pages. [Source: Read online
  12. Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories: 1905-1906. Dodo Press. 260 pages. [Source: Bought]
Adult Nonfiction:
  1. The Art of the English Murder. Lucy Worsley. 2014. Pegusus Books. 336 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Girl With The White Flag. Tomiko Higa. Translated by Dorothy Britton. 1989. 130 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. Hampton Sides. 2014. 454 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian Fiction:
  1. Like a Flower in Bloom. Siri Mitchell. 2015. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Remember the Lilies. (Women of Courage #3) Liz Tolsma. 2015. [February] Thomas Nelson. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Love Gently Falling. Melody Carlson. 2015. Center Street. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Lizzy & Jane. Katherine Reay. 2014. 339 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. The Bracelet. Dorothy Love. 2014. Thomas Nelson. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy
Christian Nonfiction: 
  1. Living As A Christian: Teachings from First Peter. A.W. Tozer. 2010. Regal. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Weighed and Wanting Addresses on the Ten Commandments. D.L. Moody. 1898. The Bible Institute. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Russ Ramsey. 2015. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Exalting Jesus in Matthew. (Christ Centered Exposition) David Platt. 2013. B&H. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Living by the Book. Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks. 1991. Moody. 350 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  6. Last Words of Jesus. Stu Epperson. 2015. Worthy Inspired. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. Don't Give Up, Don't Give In. Lessons From An Extraordinary Life. Louis Zamperini and David Rensin. 2014. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive. Thom S. Rainer. 2014. B&H. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Meeting God in Mark. Rowan Williams. 2015. Westminster John Knox. 108 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. How To Worship Jesus Christ. Joseph S. Carroll. Foreword by John F. MacArthur, Jr. 1984/1991. Moody Publishers. 90 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. 2015 Walk for the Animals Volunteer T-Shirt

WFTA2015 T-shirt 1 FINAL-01

Each year I have the privilege to illustrate and design the T-shirts worn by all the volunteers and staff at the Humane Society of Broward County’s huge fundraiser “Walk for the Animals.” The dogs on this T-shirt are very special to me. They are the friends of Small Dog, the lead character in my picture book series.

The Walk will be held February 28th this year. If you love dogs, this is a must attend event!

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8. Watch the Annie Awards Live on Cartoon Brew Tonight

Watch animation's biggest awards show live on Cartoon Brew tonight.

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9. 2015 -Hey, It's Buy Black Tower Books Year. Honest.

 From Monday I will be running a good few adverts on CBO to promote Black Tower Comics & Books since this is, after all, my blog!

Also,  I need to start saving for my retirement!

So first off, today, here is the excellent Dark Night Detectives  by Ben R. Dilworth.  Makes Soylent Green and Blade Runner look like kiddy stories.

The Dark Night Detectives
Ben R. Dilworth
 Paperback
A4
Black & White
50 Pages
Price: £8.00
Its a world where if you stand up for what is right you'll be lucky if its just a beating you get. A world where people are starving (if poor) and the rich live in luxury. 
 
A world where you have to have birthing Rights. Where sacrificing someone to the Devil is acceptable -as long as they pay the wages. 
 
A world where if you DO NOT take that bribe you WILL be made an example of. 
 
Some of Ben Dilworth's most provoking and dark work in ages.

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10. Electronic Music – Timeline from Classical Convesation

If you know what this is, then you know what this is. My kids are in Classical Conversation. They have a song that goes through the history called “The Timeline”. I took parts of that song and turned it into a loop. Thank you kids and wife for coaching me in the melody. I experimented […]

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11. Rose Byrne to reprise role of Moira MacTaggert for X-Men: Apocalypse

X Men07 1000x667 Rose Byrne to reprise role of Moira MacTaggert for X Men: Apocalypse

In an interview with EW, X-Men: Apocalypse writer Simon Kinberg confirmed Rose Bryne will be returning for the X-Men: First Class sequel to reprise her role as Moira MacTaggert.

“We ended First Class with Charles having wiped portions of her memory of her experience with the X-Men. They are, essentially, strangers to her when she meets them,” he told EW.

Byrne will join returning co-stars Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy. She will also join recently-introduced Oscar Isaac, who will be playing a central villain, and Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan and Alexandra Shipp, who will be playing younger versions of Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm, respectively.

The sequel is set in the 1980s, which means the time period will jump forward by about 20 years – Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are said not to be reprising their roles, and we’re guessing the rest of the cast will have just aged very gracefully?

X-Men: Apocalypse releases May 27, 2016

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12. What If ‘The Amazing World Of Gumball’ Was Anime?

Here's how one fan re-imagined Cartoon Network's "Gumball" as an anime series.

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13. Week In Review: January 25-31

Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
The Art of the English Murder. Lucy Worsley. 2014. Pegusus Books. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
The Case of the Velvet Claws. (Perry Mason #1) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1933. Random House. 215 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Worthing Saga. Orson Scott Card. 1990. Tor. 465 pages. [Source: Bought]
To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages.  [Source: Bought]
The Infinite Sea (Fifth Wave #2) Rick Yancey. 2014. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]
Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories: 1905-1906. Dodo Press. 260 pages. [Source: Bought]
Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
McElligot's Pool. Dr. Seuss. 1947/1974. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Board Book: Curious George's Crane. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board Book: Curious George's Train. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Behold the King of Glory: A Narrative of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Russ Ramsey. 2015. Crossway. 240 pages.
Last Words of Jesus. Stu Epperson. 2015. Worthy Inspired. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Exalting Jesus in Matthew. (Christ Centered Exposition) David Platt. 2013. B&H. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Living by the Book. Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks. 1991. Moody. 350 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

This week's recommendation(s):
Plenty of genre fiction reviewed this week.

For science fiction lovers, I recommend Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I did enjoy it very much. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved it. Only time will prove that one way or the other. I personally still love Worthing Saga more. But that could be because I've reread it four or five times!

Brave New World was a good read. I didn't "love" it. But I'm so glad I read it. If you enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 or The Giver, you should definitely seek this one out.

I would definitely recommend Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Velvet Claws. This is the first Perry Mason mystery. It was just a fun read from start to finish.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Yellers

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15. Mysteries Prevail Today

The long silence since my Christmas
posting was due to the exciting news that my middle grade mystery, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, will be published in June by MX Publishing. I was busy with formatting and editing issues to get it ready. (MX Publishing specializes in Sherlock related books, so Sherlock fans can go HERE to see a wonderful selection.) You can also read more about my book  next  door on my Victorian Scribbles blog HERE:

Not surprisingly, I have been reading a lot of mysteries both for young people and for adults. I recently joined Capitol Crimes, the local chapter of Sisters-in-Crime, since I'm currently working on a cosy mystery for adults. I was invited there by a friend, and it's her book I want to talk about today: Flint House, by Kathleen L. Asay, published by Bridle Path Press.

Flint House is a mystery, in fact a bundle of mysteries revolving

around what happens when disparate lives intersect over what should be a tragic event and stir up past events each character would like to forget.

Liz Cane, a cynical journalist with The Sacramentan, goes for an interview with Maisie Flint, the unpleasant owner of Flint House, a Victorian landmark in town. At one point, Maisie interrupts the interview to check on something upstairs. A few minutes later she tumbles down the stairs and dies.

Did she trip? Or was she pushed?

The tenants of Flint House are life's strays, hiding out from life in this rickety, shabby old Victorian. One mysterious tenant is called The Princess. No one knows her real name, but all the tenants seem to adore her, whereas none of them were especially fond of Maisie. The tenants also face eviction once Maisie's distant relative shows up to claim the house. The Princess claims to have a solution that will save Flint House. Then she is found in an alley, beaten nearly to death.

A random attack by a stranger? Or was she attacked by someone who knew her?

Despite herself, Liz gets drawn into their lives. She finds herself pursuing the story, partly as hard-bitten reporter, and partly because she cares about this motley collection of people who have become a family to each other. She's also obsessed with solving the mystery of The Princess's real identity.

I know it's almost a cliche these days to say "I couldn't put the book down," but I couldn't.  It was an engrossing read, and the characters are memorable. Despite the events I've mentioned, it's also a heartwarming read. I highly recommend it.

And no spoilers here. You will have to read the book to answer the questions raised above.

You can buy the book HERE: and HERE:

You contact the author at her website HERE:

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16. Step Away From That Computer!


I thought my new year's resolution was very manageable. Each month I would go to a place in New York City that I had never been. (I can't believe I almost broke my vow--it was already the last day of January!) 

After a week of polishing a manuscript, I was ready to get outside of my head and my apartment.

The weather was crisp and cold. The wind was so fierce, I almost changed my mind about going to Owl's Head park on the eastern edge of Brooklyn. But I'm glad I didn't.





At the top of the hill, I could see white caps
 on the water of New York harbor. 



Without their leaves, the trees are so exposed. 
As if they aren't trees at all, but some other kind of life form.


How long has this fellow being been standing on this spot? 
And how did he get to be so twisted?


Of course whenever I go anywhere, 
I'm always looking for a way into a new world.


Or into a new story.

I think I might have found one.


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17. Comic: First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem

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18. PROJECT ALMANAC - Drive Through Movie Review

The Nerd Riders, Kristin and Clint, are at it again with their review of the new time travel movie PROJECT ALMANAC. 

If you could time travel, where would you go? 

Did you see PROJECT ALMANAC? Do you agree or disagree with the Nerd Riders?

 

 


Read More

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19. Home Again in Greencastle

So here I am, home again in Greencastle, as happy a Hoosier as I was before. I'm living again with my friend Julia, and her six-year-old son Alex, in her cozy home on Anderson Street, a few blocks from the campus. (Ignore my thumb at the top of the photo. I'm still new to taking pictures with my phone.)


I'm teaching two courses: Children's Literature for the English department (28 students - 25 girls and 3 boys!), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau for Philosophy (9 students who fit comfortably into our tiny classroom tucked under the eaves on the third floor of Asbury Hall). The picture below is the walk from my house down Anderson Street to campus. (Any better quality photo on this blog is one I didn't take.)

 I spend Tuesday/Thursday on campus, and MWF out at my office at the peaceful, pristine Prindle Institute for Ethics situated in the DePauw Nature Park on the site of a reclaimed quarry.

Ahhhh.....

The strangest thing about my happiness here is that I don't have as many of my four "pillars of happiness" as I do at home. Writing, reading, walking, and being with friends are my four most reliable sources of everyday joy. Here I walk vastly less than I do at home, without my little dog Tank and best friend Rowan as faithful walking partners, and without Colorado's winter warmth and sun. I've been writing less, as I'm so busy, filling every day with DePauw-related activities and conversations, and reading less for the same reason. I do have lots of delightful catching up to do with DePauw friends, but I have even more dear friends back home in Boulder.

So why do I feel so fully alive here? Maybe it's the strong sense of community, similar to what I find with my church. On this campus, even as we're struggling with some painful issues of racial discrimination and exclusion, we work so hard together as a community to try to make things better. So maybe a strong sense of community is more important to me than I realized. I also love living in a small town - perhaps for the same reason? Or just because I like a certain scale to my life. I like having hardly any stuff, walking everywhere, residing in a town where the public library is steps away from the post office, which is steps away from the campus, which is steps away from the courthouse square. I've always loved small spaces.

And yet my life here doesn't feel small. It feels big, stuffed full of intellectual challenge through constant talks and reading groups, concerts and conversations. I feel so fully alive, what Rousseau calls the "sentiment of existence." Or maybe I just like being constantly busy. I've always been the kind of person who likes having a long to-do list and then crossing things off, one by one.That, too, makes me feel like I'm living more intensely.

I just found out yesterday that I lost a new friend to a tragic car accident. She was someone who lived with extravagant generous fullness, as writer, mother, friend. So whatever we can find to make ourselves feel the wonder of our existence most keenly, that's what we need to do. Today and always.




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20. What would happen if...? The Power of Imagination, by Pauline Fisk

It was with great sadness that we at ABBA heard of the death of Pauline Fisk, writer of Midnight Blue and many other much-loved children's books, a few days ago on 25th January. Pauline blogged for ABBA for a time, and Penny Dolan has volunteered her usual slot so that we could  repeat one of Pauline's posts. This is the last one she wrote for us, in May 2013, and it says so much about her breadth of vision, her sense of adventure, and her concern that children's imaginations should be nurtured.

Our thoughts and our sympathy are with Pauline's family.

Sue Purkiss



Pauline Fisk
This is my last post, regretfully. Life and all its busyness has galloped ahead of me and needs reining back. Before I step down, however, I want to share with you some things I said the other night at Keele University’s Keele Link Awards Ceremony.

I began with a story, because stories are what I do best and they’re also the means by which I make sense of the world. Five years ago now, as some of you will know, I was out in Belize, funded by the British Arts Council, researching gap year volunteering for my novel In The Trees. I wasn’t an adventurous type. I was a sixty year-old, asthmatic, stay-at-home author who’d never been anywhere more tropical than Rome in November. What had kicked me out of my office, however, was the power of imagination.

And it was imagination that I was at Keele to talk about. That same imagination that 'will get you everywhere', according to Albert Einstein, whilst logic 'only gets you from A to Z'. ‘I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination,’ he said. ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’ And, again, from Picasso, ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’

Well, six years before my Belize trip, my son Idris Davies experienced what was real about that country as a gap year volunteer. I’d waved goodbye to a white-faced, spotty [the result of back–to-back shifts in McDonalds] youth and returned to the airport five months later to greet a person who was literally, physically unrecognisable. By that I mean that when I saw Idris talking to my husband, I thought the tall man in the Trekforce t-shirt was one of the leaders of the trip explaining why our son had missed the plane. Idris’s entire body shape had changed, but it wasn’t muscles, hair or tan that rendered him unrecognizable. It was the way he inhabited his body, as if it wasn’t an accidental appendage but he was actually in charge of it.

Now there’s a story, I immediately thought. As an author of young adult novels, how could I not? What happened to young gap year volunteers when they went off on those rites of passage projects? What changed them - and how?

Six years later, I was in Belize finding out. Six years, I have to say, of struggling not to go out there, because I wasn’t the sort of writer who wrote those sorts of books. I was a stay-at-home gal. I couldn’t afford it. Other writers would do it better. My publishers wouldn’t be interested. My agent would think it was a bad idea. Nobody was writing gap year novels for young teenagers – and I was terrified of snakes.

What drove me out there, against all odds? It wasn’t my publishers being interested after all, my agent thinking it was a good idea and the money for the trip coming in. It was the power of imagination that sent me to Belize. A story had me in its grip, and I didn’t know exactly how that story might unfold, but I knew that if I went out to this unknown country in Central America, it would come. My Kevin Costner moment. If you build it, they will come.

So, imagination. The realm of creative, slightly batty, forgetful types like Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso - and me. I think not. The realm of all of us – that’s what I went to Keele University to say. What happened to me with In The Trees was that I was captured by an idea. It got me so tightly that it wouldn’t let go. And that’s exactly what had happened to the young people I went out to meet. There, miles from civilization, guarded by soldiers because their project was so dangerous, I found groups of young school leavers trekking into the jungle and enduring hideously primitive living conditions because the idea of saving the rain forest had lodged itself in their heads and wouldn’t be removed. They’d had the imagination to see what might happen if nothing was done - and they were doing what they could.

When did your imagination first kick off? I have a photo somewhere of myself at the age of three making up stories for the big children next door. They’re lined up on one side of the garden wall and I’m on the other and they’re asking what happened next…and next…and next… and I’m telling them.

I believe I was privileged to grow up in an age where imagination was valued. At my primary school my ability to make up and write stories was encouraged. I was made to feel special because of what I could do. But anybody who had half a good idea was made to feel special too. These were the years after the war when the country was trying to grow itself again and its young people were not just its future but valued as a resource.

There was so much freedom back in those days. Half my childhood was spent lurking around back alleys, looking for fairies under bramble bushes, going early to the local park so that I could sit and enjoy it all on my own, making dens in the undergrowth and stories in my head. I travelled alone on the underground. My parents would put me on a bus on one side of London and I’d be met off it on the other. Apart from that little matter of sums and science, languages and sport [in other words, all the things I wasn’t good at in school] I was free. And my imagination was free.

Even when my children were growing up, they too were free. We lived out in a Shropshire village on the edge of the Long Mountain. Summer holidays were spent playing cowboys in the long grass of the churchyard next door [when funerals weren’t taking place] or damming up the local stream.

There’s a tendency, I know, to say that things aren’t what they used to be in the good old days. By which we mean our good old days. Well, surprise, surprise, children are born and growing up with every bit as much imagination as children ever were. The big question now, though, is what happens to it.

Nowadays nobody in that village allows their children to play down the stream. Not since the funny man was there, trying with some woman to get children into his car. So often now it’s fear that fuels people’s imaginations, not opportunities. Who might be lurking round the corner, waiting to pounce? What are governments really up to if we only knew the truth? When will Peak Oil happen and the world as we know it come to an end?

I think we have some very real reasons to be fearful sometimes. But with imagination we can overcome our fears, or at the very least work our way round them. Imagination doesn’t have to bring out the worst in us. It can turn our problems into opportunities. And that’s surely where education comes in.

Children need to be given space for their imaginations to flourish. And they need this space in school, not just afterwards between home time and bed. You want to know what I fear? Here’s an example for you. Imagine a local rural primary school. This is one I know well - I’m not making it up. It’s a lovely school full of lovely children in the middle of lovely countryside - hills, valleys, rivers and verdant woodland. The school’s environment is entirely nurturing. If anywhere in this country is going to turn out free-thinking, imaginative children you’d expect this to be it. But, come the end of the academic year, the Head wants artwork from the top class to go on display – and there is none. Why not? Do I need to spell it out? I certainly didn’t the other night. The children and their teacher had been too busy keeping up with the National Curriculum to have any time left over for art.

Is this really possible? This school? What’s happening here? And if this is what’s happening all over, what do we do?

My connection with Keele came about through the Children’s University, of whom Michael Morpurgo is National Chancellor and I’m Shropshire’s Chancellor. If you want an organisation that’s stimulating children’s imaginations you need look no further. Here it’s very much the children who take the lead, coming up with ideas and dragging themselves, their parents and their teachers off to do or see whatever it is that interests them. And it's not just a cosy, middle-class organisation either. Shropshire's Children's University is operating in some of the most deprived areas in the county. I’m proud to be associated with an organisation like that.

If we don’t see our children’s imaginations fed and stimulated, then the scientists of the future are a thing of the past, the artworks of the future will be black on black, the designers, the thinkers, the builders, the workers of the future – and those craft workers whom the government has just, in yet another of their fits of total madness, announced in a white paper are no longer part of the creative industry – where will they all be?

I don’t need to end here with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ to make my point. Instead I’m going to end where I started – with Albert Einstein and his imagination encircling the world. In his Commendation of In The Trees, Rafael Manzanero, the Chief Executive of the Belizean NGO responsible for the protection of that country’s rainforest,wrote that people like us really could make a difference to our planet, even though it seems we’re worlds apart. ‘It is not only moral to do so,’ he wrote,‘but the survival of forests will make the planet a better place for human life.’

THIS is the idea that caught hold of a group of young people – that not only governments and multi-national charitable organisations could make a difference to the world around them; they could too. According to Rafael Manzanero it’s been an effective and lasting difference too. And, in the face of illegal logging, poacher activities, unlicensed gold-panning, crime syndicates, the organized smuggling of everything from jaguar cubs to Mayan artefacts - it takes some imagination to achieve a result like that.


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21. Actress Geraldine McEwan dies

BBC News Online

Geraldine McEwan  
 
Geraldine McEwan died following a stroke, her family said
 
Actress Geraldine McEwan, known for playing Agatha Christie sleuth Miss Marple on ITV, has died aged 82, her family have said.

She died on 30 January following a stroke at the end of October, her family said.

She appeared as Miss Marple from 2004 until 2009.

The Bafta award winner had a long and successful career in theatre, television and films.

Her son Greg and daughter Claudia said in a statement: "Following a stroke at the end of October and a period in hospital, Geraldine McEwan passed away peacefully on January 30.

"Her family would like to thank the staff at Charing Cross Hospital who cared for her incredibly well."

Actors she worked with during her career included Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Williams, and she won a Bafta TV award for best actress in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.


Geraldine McEwan as Marcella in Troy Kennedy Martin's exciting thriller "The Man Without Papers",  
 
She played Marcella in Troy Kennedy Martin's thriller The Man Without Papers in 1965.
 
 
Geraldine McEwan  
 
She also played Miss Rose Farnaby in the 1990s comedy series Mulberry

Tempus fugit

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22. Selayar dan Takabonerate Surga Menyelam di Sulawesi Utara

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Pulau Selayar adalah pusat wisata bahari di Provinsi Sulawesi Selatan. Pulau ini adalah bagian dari Taman Nasional Takabonerate. Ini adalah sebuah pulau yang memiliki atau terbesar ketiga di dunia setelah kepulauan Maladewa dan Marshall. Selayar terdapat di Flores dan merupakan pintu gerbang menuju ke Taman Nasional Taka Bonerate.

selayar-dan-takabonerate-surga-menyelam-sulawesi-utara

Kepulauan Selayar memiliki pantai yang indah dengan pasirnya yang berwarna putih dan airnya yang jernih. Anda bisa berenang atau bersantai di pantai sambil menikmati keindahan alam di sekitar Pulau Selayar. Selain itu, bukit-bukit hijau yang membentang, serta gugusan batu karang memanjang ke arah laut sejauh 200 meter merupakan pemandangan yang luar biasa dari tempat ini. Baca juga : Tips Berwisata Kepantai
Kepulauan Selayar memiliki letak yang sangat strategis terutama bagi anda yang ingin melakukan beberapa kegiatan seperti menyelam, snorkeling atau berenang dan memancing.
Bagian timur dari kepulauan ini adalah tempat yang sering dikunjungi oleh para wisatawan. Tempat ini juga terdapat banyak resort yang menyediakan fasilitas menyelam dan bisa di sewa dengan harga yang relatif murah. Selayar dan Takabonerate adalah alternatif terbaik untuk menyelam dan menikmati keindahan bawah laut selain Raja Ampat, dan Selat Bali. Pulau Selayar yang terkenal akan keindahan bawah lautnya itu memiliki terumbu karang yang sangat luas. Ada sekitar 1 juta hektar terumbu karang yang ada di tempat ini.
Tidak mengherankan apabila Selayar kemudian menjadi salah satu permata laut yang terindah di dunia. Selain itu, alamnya yang masih murni merupakan nilai plus dari tempat ini.
Di tempat ini visibilitas ketika menyelam mencapai 30 meter. Salah satu yang paling menarik dari tempat ini adalah tebing karang hasil letusan gunung berapi. Tak hanya itu, ketika anda menyelam, anda akan banyak menemukan ikan-ikan langka seperti Barakuda, Giant Travelly, Marlin, Sailfish, Dogtooth Tuna, Yellowfin, Wahoo, dan Makerels.

Rute Menuju Kepulauan Selayar
Rute menuju Pulau Selayar dan Taman Nasional Taka Bonerate sebenarnya tidak terlalu sulit. Dari Makassar anda bisa menuju ke Pulau Selayar dengan menggunakan mobil, bus, dan menyeberang menggunakan Ferry. Perjalanan biasanya memakan waktu sekitar 8 hingga 9 jam.
Jika anda ingin mendapatkan informasi lebih tentang resort yang ada di pulau ini, yaitu Resorts Selayar Island. Anda bisa mengunjungi www.Selayarislandresort.com, resort ini terletak sekitar pertengahan antara pantai barat Pulau Selayar dan tempat menyelam di bagian timur. Tempat ini menawarkan kamar yang memiliki AC dan memberikan kenyamanan serta beberapa fasilitas modern. Akomodasi yang dimilikinya diantaranya adalah aku akses ke 50 spot diving, perahu, dan masih banyak lagi yang lainnya.
Selain itu anda juga bisa membuka situs dinas pariwisata kabupaten Selayar yang beralamat di www.Selayartourism.com. Disana anda bisa mendapatkan beberapa informasi mengenai hotel, penginapan, serta panduan berwisata di Pulau Selayar. Selain itu, cobalah untuk mengunjungi www.takabonerate.net untuk menggali informasi lebih banyak.

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23. Author Platforms

Does every author need to have a platform, and what is a platform anyway?

https://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/julie-hedlund-busts-myths-about-author-platforms/

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24. Historical fiction

There is sci-fi and fantasy, but I say why build a new world? Historical fiction offers our world, but in a different time. All the writer has to do is a little research.

Okay. A lot of research.

Stories are about people. There is something I find fascinating about the lives or people in this world, yet of another time. The only problem is that the term itself - historical fiction - is often met with outstretched forefingers in the sign of the cross from wild-eyed agents and editors. 

I find the genre fascinating and don’t understand it’s adverse connotation. Story is story and if you people them with intriguing characters and you place them in perilous situations, what does it matter if they are in a time long ago? Just to get around the negativity, I have to dress my stories up with a modern day time traveler in order to sneak in historical settings.

A while back, Susan Sherman contributed a post for Writer’s Digest entitled “Tackling Historical Fiction.”

Sherman starts her research in the map room of libraries. This is to get a good working knowledge of the geography of the story. The Internet can help in this regard, but the local university may offer more if the city library can’t provide.

Then she researches the big history, the major events going on at the time. That seems obvious. But it is in what she calls the “tiny history” that details emerge that bring the story to life. She asks herself a thousand questions to discover the minutiae of everyday life. She imagines arriving at one of her characters’s house and wonders, how she got there, in a cab a carriage or on horseback, if the road paved with cobblestones or is is mired in mud, if the house is lighted and if so by candle light or gas, if the place is in a good neighborhood or a slum. All these questions provides details of the time and place that give the story a sense of immediacy and reality.

Sherman warns that we must be careful not to let the research show and turn the whole thing into a history lesson info dump. The writer can’t show off the amount of research they’ve done. The trick is to provide enough description to flesh out the character and give life to the world, without burdening the reader with unnecessary details.

The nature of historical fiction, its limits of an earlier time, does allow the writer some advantages. Authors are supposed to create difficulties for their characters. In addition to the conflicts, barriers, and misunderstandings characters in any novel can face, there were no cell phones or Google to provide the quick fixes our modern day characters may employ. Using a smart phone to locate a Starbucks in a foreign part of town is much easier than sailing to the Far East when an unchartered American continent gets in your way.

Whether as a reader or a writer, there is pleasure in seeing real people dealing with day-to-day living in times long ago. 


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

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25. Library Loot: Fifth Trip in January

New Loot:
  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck
  • The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
  • Historical Romances: The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • The Painted Bridges by Wendy Wallace
  • Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Covers by Margaret C. Sullivan
  • Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas 
Leftover Loot:
  • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
  • The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill
  • Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
  • The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  • Socks by Beverly Cleary
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss
  • On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
  • If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss
  • A Girl from Yamhill: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary
  • My Own Two Feet: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary
  • The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
  • The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
  • Wars of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden
  • The Foundry's Edge by Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz
  • Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas
  • Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma
  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys
  • Devil at My Heels by Louis Zamperini

     Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.   

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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