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1. Under the temple lay a cave, made by some guilty, coward slave.

The following photographs were taken at the Hellfire Caves in July of this year.  I originally shared them on my family history blog, but they are perfect for Halloween, so I hope you won’t mind me sharing them again here.

Located in West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, the Hellfire Caves have a notorious history and are reputed to conceal many mysteries.  They are actually a man-made network of tunnels carved out of the chalk and flint of West Wycombe Hill commissioned by Sir Francis Dashwood.


The caves and the terrible deeds that supposedly went on there were discussed at great length when I was a little girl.  Mutterings of dark deeds, devil worship and debauchery were not intended for my small ears – but I heard, and I remembered!  So an opportunity to visit was not to be turned down.


I felt a little disappointed when we first arrived there were just too many people making too much noise. But, as the saying goes ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ and ghostly noises sound so much better when you are deep underground. As we got further into the tunnels, much of the chatter and squeals died away, and then it began to feel a little cold and distinctly creepy.  I was, however, unprepared for some of the images picked up by my camera.  I would hate to be alone down there, especially if the lights went out! 

The first three photographs are exactly what we saw;






The two photographs that follow have not been changed or altered in any way. The camera settings were completely untouched during our visit. These were taken in a particularly dark part of the caves, so I've no idea why they are so much brighter than all the rest.

I make no claims about what they might show – I leave that to you. Suffice to say I find them very creepy!




Terry and I didn't notice a thing while in the caves, thank goodness! We would have left in a hurry had we seen this!

The ghost hunting team from the TV programme Most Haunted carried out an over-night vigil within the caves during December 2003. They spent the night without lights and members of the team said the caves were the darkest place they had ever visited. During the night, they had many paranormal experiences, seeing orbs of light and hearing noises. Without prior knowledge of the mysterious Hellfire caves Derek Achora, the medium, felt the presence of a young girl dressed in white, and of females dressed in nuns' habits. “Ladies of the night” were said to have worn such attire to disguise themselves whilst entertaining members of the Hellfire Club in the caves.



May you have good luck on Hallowe ' en..


I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween. 
Me? I will be hiding under the covers!

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2. My tweets

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3. John Green Talks About ‘Why We Need Diverse Books’

The Fault in Our Stars author John Green has become an advocate for the “We Need Diverse Books” organization. In the video embedded above, John Green talks about why he feels that diversity children’s and young adult stories are necessary.

Green credits two books written by African-American authors, Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, for influencing him to appreciate literature. What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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4. Eight facts about the waterphone

What in this galaxy is waterphone? You’ve might have not seen one, but if you’ve watched a horror or science fiction movie, chances are you’ve heard the eerie sounds of the waterphone. With Halloween around the corner and a spooky soundtrack required, I toured through Grove Music Online to learn more about the monolithic, acoustic instrument.

1. The waterphone was invented in 1967 and patented in 1975 by Richard A. Waters. It was manufactured individually to order by him (formerly under the company name Multi-Media in Sebastopol, California) so each was unique.

2. The Standard model is a stainless steel bowl resonator containing water. The dome-shaped top opens into a vertical unstopped, cylindrical tube that serves as a handle. Around the edge of the resonator are attached between 25 and 55 nearly vertical bronze rods, which (depending on the model) are tuned in equal or unequal 12-note or microtonal systems.

3. Various sizes have been produced; the earliest (‘Standard’) had a resonator 17.8 cm in diameter. Current models (‘Whaler’, ‘Bass’, and ‘MegaBass’) are constructed from flat, stainless steel pans.

4. The rods can be struck with sticks or Superball mallets or rubbed by a bow or the hands.

5. The movement of water in the resonator produces timbre changes and glissandi.

6. It has been played in a wide variety of musics, including rock and jazz, and featured in the compositions of Tan Dun and Sofia Gubaidulina.

7. It is an important element in the Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band founded by Waters in 1967.

8. It has been featured in many horror and science fiction film and television soundtracks, such as Poltergeist and The Matrix.

Headline image credit: Waterphone. Photo by Hangklang. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Eight facts about the waterphone appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Cynthia Leitich Smith's Feral Pride Cover Reveal, Feral Series Book Teaser & Giveaway

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the cover for my upcoming novel, Feral Pride (Candlewick, 2015) and the book trailer for the Feral series, produced by Book Candy Studios.

From the promotional copy for Feral Pride:

Anti-shifter sentiment is at an all-time high when Kayla’s transformation to werecat is captured on video and uploaded for the world to see.

Suddenly she becomes a symbol of the werebeast threat and—along with fellow cat Yoshi, Lion-Possum Clyde, and human Aimee—a hunted fugitive.

Meanwhile, a self-proclaimed weresnake has kidnapped the governor of Texas and hit the airwaves with a message of war.

In retaliation, werepeople are targeted by law enforcement, threatened with a shift-suppressing vaccine, terrorized by corporate conspiracy, and enslaved by a top-secret, intelligent Cryptid species.

Can Clyde rally his inner lion king to lead his friends—new and old—into battle against ruthless, media-savvy foes? A rousing blend of suspense, paranormal romance, humor, and high action.

The explosive finale to the Feral series by New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith.



Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win Feral Nights (Candlewick, 2013), Feral Curse (Candlewick, 2014) and an advanced reader copy of Feral Pride. Publisher sponsored. Eligibility: North America.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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6. 5 Questions with Best Selling Author Regina Swanson

 
BookBuzzr author Regina Swanson’s book – My Husband’s Other Women – recently hit the # 3 spot on the Amazon. We reached out to Regina to learn more about her story.

The screenshot below was taken on Oct, 20 2014.
regina swanson amazon rank

1. Congratulations on the success of ‘My Husband’s Other Women’. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your journey as a writer?

Thank you for showing interest in “My Husband’s Other Women.” It is appreciated.
Regina Swanson
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I took a short hiatus from Dallas to attend college. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I returned to Dallas. I have Master of Arts Degree in counseling and a PhD in Education. I am a late starter to the writing profession. I have always enjoyed fiction and creating stories but only recently decided to put it down on paper. Once I completed my first novel, I sent the manuscript out to some of the larger publishing companies. Needless to say, I did not hear back from any. I was extremely grateful when I was introduced to Royalty Publishing House. The company owners, Niyah Moore and Porscha Sterling, were excited about the manuscript. Together we put in the work to bring this debut novel to lovers of women’s fiction.

2. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I do not have a special time to write. When idea’s spring into my brain I make notes. I could be riding in the car or standing in line at the grocery store. In the past, I would make outlines of what I wanted to happen, but I stopped because I’d never stick to the outline. You could say that I let my characters develop themselves as I am writing. It gives them more of an authentic feel as opposed to sticking to a premade script.

3. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The most challenging part of writing for me is being concerned with how the editor views my knowledge of structure in preparing the manuscript. I know that may be weird, but the other parts of writing come very easy for me. I believe that my love of writing causes little stress throughout the process.

4. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Absolutely! I learned that I love happy endings. I also love developing characters. It is one of the best things in the world to get to decide the outcome of what’s happening.

5. Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

My advice for other authors is to first entertain yourself with your writing. If you by chance entertain others in the process, well that’s just icing on the cake!

Thank you, Regina, for your Interview responses!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. Vikram is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to starting BookBuzzr, Vikram founded another software company that has been successfully serving clients from all over the world since 2001. When he is not dreaming up ways to help authors accelerate their earnings and book sales, Vikram spends his time playing the guitar, practicing Aikido and spending time with his family._________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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7. The Hallo-wiener - a book review

Titiel

And to add the last straw .....

"I'm so happy that Hallowe'en falls on a Wednesday this year!" said NO teacher ever. 
                                         -author unknown

Today's featured book:


Title:  The Hallo-wiener
Author and Illustrator:  Dav Pilkey

Let's take a peek inside shall we?









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8. GalleyCat Exclusive: NY Times Unveils 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year List

unnamedThe New York Times Book Review has unveiled its annual list of the “10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books” of the year.

Shelf Awareness children’s editor Jennifer M. Brown, Caldecott Medal-winning artist Brian Floca, and Caldecott Medal recipient Jerry Pinkney sat on this year’s judging panel. See the complete list below.

Here’s more from the press release: “Since 1952, the Book Review has convened an independent panel of three judges from the world of children’s literature to select picture books on the basis of artistic merit. Each year, judges choose from among thousands of picture books for what is the only annual award of its kind. Lists of past winners of the Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award can be found on NYTimes.com/Books, along with a slide show of this year’s winners.”

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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9. Where are all the British superheroes? Here Is My Angry, Naked (its a theme -roll with it) Response


Above: Me "back in the day"  as The Red Dragon.  Honest.


I mentioned in yesterdays Where are all the British superheroes? asked The Journalist. "They All Live Here With Me" Was My Reply! that journalists who write these items have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.  Well, I hinted at that.  No so much a hint as a bottle of tabasco sauce in the eye -which the postman assures me: "Hurts mightily!" And I responded: "Well, Crispian, do not sneak up behind me and prod me when I am nude gardening then!" No come-back to that.

Uh. Wait a minute....sorry. Nude typing.

Anyway, the journalist responsible did what any journalist would do.  Research the subject for a few hours and turn in a worthy piece of light reading?  No -turn to Wikipedia.  Even admits it. sigh.

You know, he could have found my post on the subject just by googling for a while (it took me five minutes to find).  You do remember my "At Long Last! The Return Of The Improbability Of The British Super Hero" -last updated in August?  Sigh. Here:

http://hoopercomicart.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/at-long-last-return-of-improbability-of.html

Anyway, the article writer referred to Zenith -it's more-or-less obligatory to despite what Grant Morrison might demand.  So fair enough even though it is obvious the journalist hasn't read any of the series.

But then, to smear a little garlic paste into the tabasco stained eye -I really am sorry, Crispian. Just let it go- he comes up with this and all typos are his:

"Knight
Britain’s first superpowered blueblood. Created in the Fifties with his sidekick Squire as a homegrown competitor to Batman, Knight was initially the alter ego of Percy Sheldrake, Earl of 'Wordenshire', and could be summoned by ringing the bell of his local church. By the time Grant Morrison briefly revived the character at the end of the Nineties, the new Knight was seen to have piddled away his inheritance and acquired a drug habit, and had to be rescued from the gutter to restart his crimefighting career from someone’s garage. Now there’s Broken Britain for you."

Right.  Percival Sheldrake debuted as the Knight in Batman #62 (December 1950), and was created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang. We are talking about a period when a lot of Americans, particularly kids, thought England still had knights in armour.  Yes, "armour" and not "armor".  Now, Cyril Sheldrake debuted as the Knight in JLA #26 (February 1999), and was created by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter. Or "rebooted" is probably the better term -change a first name blah blah blah.

Oh, he'd lost all his money and had a drug habit and had to be kicked out of it? Well, Morrison really is turning into Moore's rival for lack of originality.  In Zenith the Red Dragon character had to be dragged out of his alcohol addiction.  And....sigh.  I bet it really hurt Morrison not to be able to use the "C" word in JLA. Get feckin real.  I've met "landed gentry" whose families lost money and were working as aircraft and even rail engineers and even dirtier jobs.  One even threatened to kill me but, to be fair, I was skipping through his rose garden naked.

Have you noticed how I keep slipping into constructing sentences like a German?  Over 50 years ago I went to that school and it's still in my brain. As my mother once said while choking me: "You are ours, bitch!"  Funny woman.



Then we have...this:

"Captain Britain
Another super-aristo who failed to move with the times. Raised in a posh family fallen on hard times — Wikipedia amusingly describes him as “too proud to fraternise with lower classes” — Brian Braddock has the good fortune to be around when Merlin turns up brandishing a superpowered Amulet of Right. Subsequent exploits made for a wearisome parade of victories over Arthurian villains, Nazis and other gestures towards Britain’s storied past, while successive attempts to rename him as ‘Excalibur’ and ‘Brittanic’ took the franchise even farther towards swivel-eye territory."

Yes, some ass on Wikipedia did write that.  Braddock went to university and had friends and worked with colleagues who were not "landed gentry" and in the Jasper World saga CB even pops into a "commoners" house for a cup of tea and a chat.  Maybe I missed all the snobbery...or maybe it was not there?

Captain Britain, as you all ought to know by now, was created by Chris ("Primadonna") Claremont and the wondrous Herb Trimpe and first appeared in Captain Britain Weekly, #1 (October 13, 1976). The character has been used in stories -some quite bad ones- by various creative teams over the years and I last read 'his' adventures in Captain Britain And MI13.  Now, despite what they tell you, MI 13 is only a fictional version in this series.  In fact, as I know, there really WAS an MI 13(Eastern Europe) "folded into" Military Intelligence.

 INEVERSAWTHEUFOINEVERSAWTHEUFOINEVERSAWTHEUFOINEVERSAWTHEUFO

The "silly flag-wearing" well, let Alan Davis describe how he came up with the design:

"I decided to base his costume on military uniforms. If you've ever seen the mounted guards outside Buckingham Place, you'll recognize the components. The white leggings and the tall boots with the flaps over the knees were easy. The headgear took a bit more time because I wanted it to look like a helmet rather than a mask. The stripes across his chest started as two crossed sashes and underwent numerous changes."

As for taking the character into more "swivel-eye territory"...what is the ass writing about?  Super heroes fighting aliens, other dimensional beings, monsters, vampires...that's "regular"...but that is also what Captain Britain does..more swivel eyed journalism.




"Miracleman
The best homegrown superhero writing draws more on British satirical tradition than it does on Blitz-spirit cliché and poshos with funny names. Years before Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Northampton magus Alan Moore began sniping at superhero tropes with Miracleman, imagining a knackered freelance journalist able to swap bodies with a glittering blond super-being at the whisper of a magic word. Under Neil Gaiman’s subsequent stewardship, the series became a queasy meditation on the moral demands of supreme power in a super-utopia. Last year’s resolution of a long-running rights dispute holds out hope for a reprint, too."




  Now that is really showing total ignorance of the character that was created when Fawcett/National stopped the Captain Marvel reprints and so Mick Anglo created Marvel Man -over a decade before Timely changed its name to "Marvel".  A character to star in a childrens weekly comic. "Blitz-spirit cliché and poshos with funny names" -what an utter feckin arse -an arse that probably never grew up at a time of no internet, nothing but three TV channels, rationing (that didn't stop totally until 1959 on most things) and when kids had to entertain themselves -usually in parks or on bomb sites!

The more I think about it the more I really hate journalists who write this crap.

Anyway, Di$ney own the character now so he's dead as far as being British goes.

 

"Union Jack
Originally Lord Falsworth, military man and scourge of His Majesty’s enemies during the Second World War. Loses his legs in combat with the evil Baron Blood, so his son takes up the mantle, subsequently becoming one of the very few gay superheroes. He bites the dust in turn, however, and it falls to a working-class Mancunian to take up the cudgels in Jack’s most recent incarnation. It’s an interesting trajectory for a British character, if you overlook the temporary possession by Sir Lancelot’s ghost, but perhaps of more use as a sociological document than a Hollywood adaptation."

I really do think that there are a great many uneducated morons out there.  Some go to college to just booze, get addle-brained and study journalism.  Study "journalism"???

nakedintherosesnakedintherosesnakedintheroses.....

Erm.  Firstly, if you are going to have a secret identity of any kind then you need a good secure base that people cannot just walk in and out of. Secondly, you need cash.  Thirdly, you need to be able to have the time to dash off and do your work.  Fourthly, you need to have friends in high places who will help you cover up any potential scandal or rumours.  Police Commissioners, Home Secretary, owners of newspapers -all well off and many landed gentry or lords "back in the day".  "What we do is of no concern to the great unwashed"

I quote the great Lady Bracknell from a book entitled The Importance Of Being Earnest, by some newbie called Oscar Wilde:

Lady Bracknell:     “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.”

Why was it theorised that Jack the Ripper and Spring-heeled Jack (not to mention various others) were aristocrats?  For reasons 1-4, above, and the attitude as voiced by Lady Bracknell.  Only the rich can afford the time and money and exert the influence to go about this business.  Anyone recall some bloke who was named "The Scarlet Pimpernel"?  You don't know your social history or literature then do not write short sentenced crap.

nakedintherosesnakedintherosesnakedintheroseswithcrispiannakedintheroses....

 

The Boys.  Read it. Left me completely cold. Hate it.

Now, in 2013, a journalist cannot rummage through his sources (Wikipedia and the internet in the main) and come up with Captain Hornet, The Leopard From Lime Street, Billy and Katy the Cat, Danger Man, Thunderbolt Jaxon, Black Archer, Captain Miracle, The Cat Girl, Garth, Iron Master, Johnny Future, Tim (Kelly's Eye) Kelly, Leaping Phantom, Spring Heeled Jack (various), Fishboy, The Phantom Viking, Purple Hood, The Spider, Q Bikes, Smoke Man, Robot Archie, Naked In The Roses, The Steel Claw, Tri-Man, Thunderbolt the Avenger, The Avenger (from The Eagle)....I could go on for ages here but you are getting my point?

"Comics =movies" seems to be the writers main reference.  None of the above British characters have been in Hollywood movies therefore do not exist.  "What I found on Wikipedia and chopped up into a mess for a space filler =my facts" appears to be the case here.


Where is the mention of British creator Paul Grists marvellous Jack Staff?  Published by Grists own Dancing Elephant Press until Image grabbed it -but British created, written, drawn and BASED super hero. Then we have Grists other similar UK based character Mud Man -again published by Image but far more British in pedigree than some our journalistic friend cites as "British super heroes"!

Please do not get me wrong -I am not trying to write that the Telegraph item was a bunch of space filling, ill researched arse water. I am writing that.

How to annoy me in a short internet item.

Now, sun is out and it's a bit nippy so I'm off for some naked gardening (google it).




















































































































































































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10. Agent Brent Taylor of TriadaUS Literary Chats About Unconventional Relationships, Agenting Style, and What He's Wishing For

Brent Taylor is a literary agent at TriadaUS Literary Agency, Inc. Prior to joining Uwe Stender's team in 2014, Brent completed a handful of internships in publishing, most recently at The Bent Agency. For more information on what he represents and how to submit to him, visit his Publishers Marketplace pagethe TriadaUS website, or find him on Twitter.



1. Welcome, Brent! Tell me, what are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?

I have so many favorite books, so how about I instead tell you about what I've been reading lately and why I liked it.

HOOK'S REVENGE by Heidi Schulz. I loved the classic middle grade voice in this one, but more importantly, the witty and whimsical punch the all-knowing narrator gave to the story. I am eagerly anticipating the second installment in this series.

SERVANTS OF THE STORM by Delilah S. Dawson. I'm a big fan of all of Delilah's books, because they're incredibly written, but this one in particular struck me with its conventional approach to crafting unconventional relationships among the characters. The friendship in this novel is an interesting one, as well as the protagonist's relationship with her mother, her peers, the villain(s)! On top of all that, the southern gothic setting and the horror elements of the story just sucked me right in.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL by Lena Dunham. It's Lena Dunham! Besides that, I'm the biggest sucker for coming-of-age themes and summer-before-college stories, and Lena wove some poignant stories along those lines in this book.

2. Those are some great choices. Let's talk about books-yet-to-be. What is on your wish list? 

I represent all across the board (for more info, see my Publishers Marketplace page), but I'm dying for a great middle grade fantasy and young adult contemporary.

3. Are you an editorial agent?

I don't know an agent in this day and age that doesn't work with their authors in some sort of editorial capacity, big or small, before sending the work(s) out. There are of course exceptions to this, and it's dependent on many factors.

If the client is a debut novelist, I most often do at least one round of semi-major revisions and perhaps a few rounds of line edits. Some projects come across your desk and need only very light work, though, so I do believe that it's more important to remain flexible, and willing to tailor your job to the individual needs of the client.

 Am I an "editorial" agent? Sometimes. Strategic and instinctive agent? Always.


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11. Court tries to kill Zombie Stan Lee Media yet again

stan lee media Court tries to kill Zombie Stan Lee Media yet again

Once again, Stan Lee Media, the shell company that does nothing but line the pockets os lawyers with frivolous lawsuits, has been dealt a blow in their attempt to take over the world. The 9th Court of Appeals ruled that no, Stan Lee Media doesn’t not own Spider-Man.

I’ve written about Stan Lee Media and their endless lawsuits before. This time, they had been claiming tha tthey owned SPider-Man because Stan Lee, the founder of the company back in the go-go 90s, said they did. or something. No court has ever agreed with this reading of the law, and it was no different this time, Eriq Gardner reports:

SLMI might contend that it was assigned rights to valuable comic book characters, but a panel of appellate judges writes, “The record demonstrates that, between the date the [1998] agreement was signed and the filing of related litigation in 2007, SLMI never announced that it owned rights to these characters (even when publicly disclosing company information pursuant to a securities offering), licensed the characters, produced content related to the characters, or asserted or attempted to enforce its ownership rights.”

YOU’d think a winning record about on par with Charlie Brown’s baseball team would dissuade the folks behind SLMi that it was time to take the ball and go home, but no, they are still trying to appeal a judges ruling that Disney did not owe them $1 billion for using Spider-Man and the Avengers and so on.

Good luck with that.

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12. Billy Collins' and Karen Romagna's VOYAGE - Interview and Giveaway!


I had the great honor to hear Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate 2001-3, speak when he came to my home town. His poems are truly brilliant and engaging. Then one day he wrote a poem for the Director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, John Y. Cole, to celebrate his 25th anniversary in office. (I am a Board Member for the Georgia Center for the Book, so it’s an organization close to my heart.) The poem was called “Voyage.” And Bunker Hill Publishing turned it into a lovely picture book with illustrations by Karen Romagna. They do the poem justice and I’m thrilled to have Karen on today to answer some questions…

Q. Hi Karen, Congratulations on the publication of VOYAGE! How did this project come to you?
A.
Hi Elizabeth, Thank you. I know this sounds crazy, but it sort of just came out of the blue. I received an email from Ib Bellew, the publisher of Bunker Hill Publishing. He asked if I would be interested in a collaboration with the poet Billy Collins. After sending off several manuscripts of my own with dummies and receiving the initial rejections (of course), this email just seemed a little far fetched! What the heck? Really? I was sure it was some sort of bizarre mass email sent to hundreds of illustrators. My illustrator friends convinced me not to delete it and find out a little more.
     It turned out Billy Collins had requested Bunker Hill contact me about doing the illustrations. Billy likes to find the illustrators to work on his books. He went online, poked around the children’s illustration world and came up with me!
     I was up against one other illustrator and needed to submit a sample piece and thumbnail sketches of how I might handle the illustrations. Before submitting a sample I asked the publisher exactly which illustration made Billy Collins decide that I should illustrate “Voyage”. He said “Oh sure, it’s the one of the boy and the boat.” That isn’t one of my illustrations. Billy found a painting I had done years earlier of my son at the age of three. So, I submitted the sample with Tim as the boy. When I received word that they wanted me to illustrate “Voyage” there was a message from Billy saying the child in the illustration was “just the kind of boy I had in mind.”

Q. Were you aware of who Billy Collins was when you got the contract and were you at all intimidated?
A.
I did recognize his name. However, I had absolutely NO idea just how big Billy Collins actually was. I have become a complete Billy Collins groupie.
      Intimidated isn’t the word I would use. There was more a feeling of not wanting to disappoint him. I wanted more than anything to have my illustrations convey the message and meaning Billy was expressing in the beautifully lyrical words of the poem. Sheesh! No pressure!

Q. The words created some very abstract ideas - were they tricky to visualize?
A.
I had the manuscript for a few days and had read it over and over. It seemed so confusing at first. I think I was in panic mode. A friend called and asked me to read the poem to her. I remember sitting at my drawing table reading the poem. It just came alive and suddenly made perfect sense. I hung up and read it out loud again. It was right there. I just hadn’t opened my eyes to it. Of course I went back and forth with different ideas, but the images were all there.

Q. I love your wide open watercolor spreads in the book - they truly give me the sense of beach and water. What is your method?
A.
I typically paint with oils. However, I had recently been doing a lot of work with watercolor. The essence of this poem seemed to call for the light touch watercolor could give the poem. I worked at 100% on 140 lb. Arches Bright White WC paper. Voyage has only 100 words and is one sentence. I painted each page in watercolor as a double page spread which I hope gives the sense of the vast ocean and the feeling of the hugeness that becomes the experience of reading and the worlds it can lead you to.
      The publishers were great. As I was beginning the rough sketches I spent a weekend with Carole and Ib, the publishers, at their home in New Hampshire making revisions to the drawings. It was decided then that I should illustrate everything, end papers and all! The story begins as soon you open the book when the boy is wandering along the beach. “Voyage” ends on the back end paper with the boy on the beach looking up at the moon... at the end of his voyage.

Q. How long did it take you to complete the book?
A.
One full year! I received my first email from Bunker Hill the first week of April, 2013 and I delivered the illustrations to Ib Bellew on March 31 of 2014. I began painting the final illustrations in November and completed them at the end of March. I have a feeling my next book will not take quite so long!

Q. Have you and Billy done anything special to celebrate the book’s release?
A.
Yes. VOYAGE had its big kick-off at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC on August 30. Billy and I, along with John Cole, who VOYAGE was written for, Ib and Carole Kitchel Bellew presented VOYAGE in the Children’s Pavilion. Billy and I followed up with a book signing later in the day. It was a pretty magical day for me. Billy Collins is as wonderful as his poetry.

Q. Anything else in the pipeline?
A.
At the moment I am working on a picture book about a young family waiting for their dad to return home. I was also recently commissioned to paint a portrait. It will be fun to get back to oil painting again!
      I am SCBWI's Illustrator Coordinator for New Jersey. Earlier this year I began a year-long mentoring program for our illustrators, Evolution Resolution. A year of setting goals and bringing them to fruition. NJSCBWI is also in the thick of putting together our Fall Craft Weekend scheduled for the first week in November.

I wish you much continued success!!
Check out this lovely book trailer (the image will take you to YouTube):


GIVEAWAY!
Bunker Hill Publishing has kindly offered to give one free copy of VOYAGE to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below.

0 Comments on Billy Collins' and Karen Romagna's VOYAGE - Interview and Giveaway! as of 10/30/2014 9:17:00 AM
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13. Juanjo Guarnido's Rock Video


Juanjo Guarnido, the Spanish illustrator who co-created the comic Blacksad was formerly a Disney animator. Last March he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to direct an animated music video for the Swedish rock band Freak Kitchen. The resulting video features a lot of Guarnido's hand-drawn 2D animation. The effect is aggressive, abrasive, and outrageous: perfect for the spirit of the band. (Link to video)
Via Cartoon Brew

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14. Query Question: does the query have to be about the main character?


Dear QOTKU

Does the MC of a query have to be the MC of a book? The direction my query is heading, I’m learning to build the book around the query, is maybe fifth on the list of characters. The query is going that way because his story is the easiest to clarify in 250 words.

The query MC is in the beginning, middle and end of the book so I could not say I was misleading anyone. The reason I say that is that the story morphs from a floating body into much more and the query MC bypasses some of the leads the cops have to investigate.



I'm not sure why you think you have to "clarify a story" in the query. You don't. You have to tell me what choice the main character faces and what's at stake for him/her with that choice.  By default, that means the main character of the book, not the fifth guy on the cast of characters.

What you're proposing here is to query a Harry Potter novel by talking about Ron Weasley.

Let's take this to the next step: I'm reading the query and I am expecting a book about Ron Weasley. All of a sudden, here's this Harry Potter guy with all the page time.  I'm confused. Confused is NOT what you want your reader to be, whether it's agent or book buyer or anyone in between.

The first rule of queries is to entice the agent to read on. The second is to tell what the book is about and by definition that's the main character.


I had a very similar situation in a recent query.  It was a terrific query, one of the best I've ever seen, but the pages opened with a character who was clearly not the protagonist or the antagonist.

Here's my reply to the query:


This is probably one of the best query letters I've ever gotten.

But the pages start with a person I thought was a secondary
character, and you've really buried the hook deep in that fifth paragraph.
And it's a pretty subtle hook too.

My taste runs to starting the book where the story begins.
From the query it sounds like the story starts when (X happens.)

Of course, other agents may have different opinions and finding
out what those are before revising is a smart strategy.

IF you do think I'm right, I'll be glad to hear from you again.

And that's a GREAT query. If you don't get a lot of positive
replies, I'll eat my hat.

Hat:


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15. Alternate Universe Tips

Question: I would like to write a story that takes place in an alternative universe. The differences between it and ours are very small and almost nonexistent,

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16. One Little Word: Silence

Did you pick one little word this year? How's it going?

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17. Another Gaza war: what if the settlers were right?

Before they were evicted from their homes and forcibly removed from their communities by the Israeli government in 2005, Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip warned that their removal would only make things worse. They warned that the front line of violence between Israelis and Palestinians would move closer to those Israelis who lived inside the Green Line. They claimed their presence provided a buffer. They said God promised this Land to the Jewish people and that they should not abandon it. They said Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, unlike many other places inside Israel, did not involve the destruction of Palestinian communities or the displacement of Palestinians. Israeli Jews living in Gaza predicted that life would become more dangerous for other Israelis if the government pulled out.

Indeed, that is exactly what has happened. In the southern part of Israel, previously quiet communities have found themselves at the forefront of violent conflict since the 2005 disengagement when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, removing its soldiers and citizens. Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens, once aimed at the settlements in Gaza, have since turned to the communities inside the internationally recognized borders of Israel. Now, missiles are fired from Gaza into the southern towns of the Israeli periphery. While it might seem strange, this has also had some benefits for those communities. In support of those who live on the front lines, the government has reduced taxes in those towns. The train ride from some peripheral areas is now provided free of charge. People began purchasing inexpensive real estate and were able to easily commute to their jobs in center of the country. Towns like Sederot became targets of missile fire, but also began to prosper in ways they had not before. More recently, Palestinian missile fire has increased in number and in range, disrupting life for Israelis throughout the country.

The settlers might not have made public predictions about the lives of Palestinians in Gaza, but surely their situation has become markedly worse since the 2005 disengagement. So far, there have been three major military campaigns and intermittent exchanges of fire resulting in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians. The number of casualties and deaths, and the destruction of property has only increased for Gazans since the Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory. This might seem strange, but it was probably entirely predictable.

Armored corps operating in the Gaza Strip. Photo by Israel Defense Forces. CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr.
Armored corps operating in the Gaza Strip. Photo by Israel Defense Forces. CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr.

Such might have been the prediction of James Ron in Frontiers and Ghettos: State Violence in Serbia and Israel, for example, who compares state violence in Israel and Serbia. When a minority is contained within a nation-state, he explains, they may be subject to extensive policing, as has been the case for Palestinians in the West Bank, which he describes as similar to a “ghetto”, or what we might think of as a reservation, or a camp. The ghetto, he says, implies subordination and incorporation, and ghettos are policed but not destroyed.

But state violence increases when those considered outsiders or enemies of the nation are separated and on the “frontier” of the state. In the American West, for example, when the frontier was open and indigenous populations were unincorporated into the United States, they were targeted for dispossession and massacre. And, he explains, when Western powers recognized Bosnian independence in 1992, that helped transform Bosnia into a frontier, setting the stage for ethnic cleansing.

We might ask ourselves if the disengagement set up Gaza as such a frontier. If so, we might have anticipated the extreme violence that has since ensued. Then we are also left to wonder if the settlers were right. What if dismantling Jewish settlements is more dangerous for Palestinians than for Israelis?

Many of those who support the rights of Palestinians have been calling for an end to Israeli settlement and for dismantling existing settlements in Israeli Occupied Territories, in preparation for the establishment of two states for two peoples, side by side.

But what is gained if the ethno-national foundation of the nation-state necessarily leads to containment or removal of those who are not considered members of the nation? This was Hannah Arendt’s warning about the danger inherent in the nation-state formation that makes life precarious for those who are not considered part of the national group that has sovereignty. As Judith Butler so eloquently explains in Who Sings the Nation-State?: “The category of the stateless is reproduced not simply by the nation-state but by a certain operation of power that seeks to forcibly align nation with state, one that takes the hyphen, as it were, as a chain.”

If the danger lies in that hyphen as chain, then removing Jewish settlers, like demolishing Palestinian homes, is also part of a larger process of separation, a power that seeks to forcibly align a people with a territory. That separation might seem liberating; a stage on the way to independence. But partition does not necessarily lead to peace. In the case of Gaza, removing Israeli citizens might just have made it possible for increased violence. If it is true that war is only politics by other means, or politics only war, then we have to think further. The political terrain of Israel has changed. If, prior to the 2005 disengagement, there was a vibrant Left Wing opposed to settlement in the Occupied Territories, those voices have faded.

The political terrain has changed, but the foundations of the seemingly intractable conflict in Israel/Palestine have not. Those foundations lie in the normative episteme of nations and states that form the basis for international relations and liberal peacemaking. If Israel/Palestine is a struggle between two national groups for one piece of territory, then fighting for that hyphen as chain will continue and the violence, death and destruction will only increase. As evidenced in Patrick Wolfe’s Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event. Writing Past Colonialism, if Israel/Palestine is a settler colonial polity, then the forces of separation required for two states should be understood as part of a foundational structure that requires elimination of the natives (Wolfe 1999). It matters little if one believes that Jews have a right to sovereignty in their homeland or if one believes the Palestinian struggle for liberation is justified. If liberation relies on the ethnic purification of territory there can be no winners.

The post Another Gaza war: what if the settlers were right? appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Dan Brown to Deliver the Penguin Annual Lecture

Dan BrownThe Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown will present this year’s Penguin Annual Lecture. His talk will focus on “codes, science, and religion.”

Brown (pictured, via) will give his speech for both the Penguin Random House and Penguin Random House India teams. The Times of India reports that “this is the first time that the lecture is being organised in two cities.”

Brown will visit New York City on November 10th and Mumbai on November 12th. According to The Hindu: “The seven previous lectures have been delivered by journalist and writer Thomas Friedman in 2007, diplomat and writer Chris Patten in 2008, Nobel Prize—winning economist Amartya Sen in 2009, historian Ramachandra Guha in 2010, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in 2011, former President A P J Abdul Kalam in 2012 and megastar Amitabh Bachchan last year.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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19. Pre-PiBo Day 5: Molly O’Neill Looks at the World with New Eyes

mollyby Molly O’Neill

It’s day [whatever] of PiBoIdMo when it finally happens . . . you run out of ideas.

The blank page. It mocks you. And you’re panicked, because you’ve already plundered every cute/amusing thing your kids/pets have ever done, looking for inspiration. You’ve already turned your own experiences into rollicking, rhythmic (but never rhyming!) texts. You’ve perhaps even transformed Buzzfeed videos about unexpected animal friendships into whimsical odes to human emotions.

what now

So now what? Well, now comes inspiration in the form of one of my favorite quotations:

 The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.                                                                                                                                                     Marcel Proust

Even though this quote is nearly 100 years old, it’s meaningful, especially for a writer. In fact, Proust probably made this observation because as an author himself, he knew well that reaching past one’s initial, obvious, or cliched ideas to a place of true, fresh, personal creativity is among a writer’s greatest challenges—and greatest triumphs, when achieved. So, in Proust’s spirit, here are 5 tips to train your eyes, make new discoveries, and ultimately shape your words as a writer.

  1. Warm up your vision. Take one of your favorite ideas from a previous day’s writing and spin it into something fresh and new by changing one key element—like the point of view, the setting, or even a character’s identity. Switch the narrative voice from first person to third person, or turn from a contemporary setting to one that’s exotic or faraway or historical or fantastical. You can even turn human characters into animals and vice versa, or swap who the reader will see as the story’s hero/villain. And since the shape of your story was already established in your earlier creation (whether it was a full manuscript or just a simple outline), you’re temporarily free from thinking about plot and can instead play with transformation-enhancing details of voice and language. You may even realize that you enjoy the resulting version of the story more than your original! (An aside—one of my favorite books on writing covers similar ground: exploring how shifts in perspective can spark your creativity: check out 99 Ways to Tell a Story by Matt Madden.)
  1. Train your new eyes in real life. For one week, outlaw yourself from taking even a single photo. Every time you reach for your phone or other device to take a photo, force yourself instead to capture the moment differently, using only words! At the end of the week, select your favorite of these moments-turned-into-words on Facebook or Instagram and ask your friends and family if they can “see” the moment through your words alone. (If you like, snap a photo of your screen or notepad for more effective/visual social sharing.)

new eyes

  1. Watch for details that make you ask “why. Stories don’t always arrive in your mind, fully-imagined. Often, they start with a simple-but-intriguing image or detail, and the author’s curiosity to explore the story behind it. So study everyday life for places where paradoxes happen and tensions meet—for moments are memorable and yet unexpected at the same time. If you’re writing a humorous story, these details can sometimes add a layer of ridiculousness or absurdity that picture book readers will delight in. But more importantly, they make readers ask “why” enough to keep on turning pages. For example, imagine: Best friends who are suddenly not speaking, and no one knows why. A castle with a doorway that’s too small for any of its inhabitants to walk through. An abandoned home with a gift-wrapped package waiting at the door. With any of these jumping-off points or thousands of others like them, you can often reveal an interesting story to yourself (and your future readers) if you ask enough whys or what-ifs.
  1. Reverse the story-making process with visual storytelling. Many writers are accustomed to thinking that text always precedes art. But exercises in visual storytelling can engage your creativity in entirely different ways—making art an integral part of your creative process. To try this type of hybrid creativity, explore Storybird, which houses a curated collection of high-quality, original art and offers free and simple creative tools for authors. Simply select an image that catches your eye, and then use the art to enable your writing in one of countless ways—it can help spark or inspires story ideas; help you “unlock” or puzzle your way through a story, offering visual clues and perspective to offset your own imagination and talent with words; or simply enhance a story you’ve already been imagining. You can keep a story private, and share the link only with those you choose (like critique partners or friends/family); or you can add your stories into Storybird’s public library to get swift feedback from millions of young readers worldwide who use the platform.

storybird

  1. Remember that less is more. In art or photography, “negative space” is the white space in and around an image’s subject that helps viewers focus. For writers, there is sometimes a temptation to think that more words = better. But just like negative space can enhance artwork, sometimes a few well chosen words will say far more than an endless ramble. Fewer words means that each carries more power, so their precise selection and arrangement matters more. Similarly, remember that what’s not on the page is just as important as what is, and if a detail of your story can be portrayed through artwork, then it rarely needs to be repeated in the text. Your job as an author is to decide what does not belong in a story, as much as what does!

Here’s hoping you arrive at the end of these exercises—and PiBoIdMo—with powerful new eyes that would make Proust proud. Questions? Thoughts? Please share them, and your own suggestions to fellow writers seeking creative vision and unique perspectives, in the comments.

guestbloggerbio2014

Molly O’Neill is Head of Editorial at Storybird where she works at the intersection of story, art, technology, and new publishing opportunities for authors and artists. Previously she was an editor at HarperCollins, where she launched the careers of talented authors and illustrators including bestselling phenom Veronica Roth (author of Divergent), heartwarming award-winner Bobbie Pyron (author of A Dog’s Way Home), and the distinctive narrative and visual voices of S. J. Kincaid (author of Insignia), Hilary T. Smith (author of Wild Awake), Sarah Jane Wright (illustrator of A Christmas Goodnight), and many others. Follow Storybird on Twitter for daily thoughts on art, writing, and creativity.


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20. How to Know Which Writing Opportunity is the BEST Path for You

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.

By Rebecca Matter

3d human scratching head with a question marks. 3d illustration.I want to cover something very important this week, so I need you to do me a favor …

Spend a few minutes today visualizing what a profitable writing career means to you.

To me, and to most of the writers I know, it means having a writing business that meets your financial goals while working reasonable hours … having solid skills that clients value … and having plenty of clients who are willing to pay you very well for those skills. Or instead of writing for clients, it means selling your own written products to readers happy to pay you large sums of money.

It doesn’t matter which writing opportunity you choose, whether it’s copywriting, web writing, resume writing, travel writing, grant writing, or any of the other opportunities I shared last month when I gave you the 7 best-paying projects for writers in 2015 … whatever. They all hold tremendous value for freelance writers.

But to become a freelance writer in the first place, you have to know what you want your writing life to look like.

Once you have that down, you can move on to the second step: Choosing a path.

The goal here is to get clear on why you want the writer’s life so you can pick the perfect writing opportunity for you. So today, I’m going to share my simple but effective formula for helping you choose the best path for your writing career, based on your goals, so you can get launched as quickly as possible.

How will a Writing Career Change Your Life?

To get started, think about what attracts you most to the idea of making money as a freelance writer. After all, people come to this profession from a variety of backgrounds and for a ton of different reasons. And no single reason is better than any others.

Now, most people are attracted to the idea of being a well-paid freelance writer for the freedom of it all. Because yes, you get to be your own boss, you can work when and where you please, you set your own hours, and you pick your own projects.

But let’s take it one step farther. I want you to focus on the specifics of your individual situation. Think about what a successful writing career could do for you. Would it allow you to …

  • Quit your day job?
  • Supplement your current income?
  • Add to your retirement income?
  • Travel the world?
  • Greatly impact a charity near and dear to your heart?

You also need to think about your timeline. For example, do you want to reach this goal as soon as possible, or are you flexible about it? Do you have a drop-dead deadline, maybe because you’ve already announced when you’re quitting your job? Or do you have a specific income goal to meet by a certain date?

It’s important to clarify what you want your writing career to do for you. Once you have your why figured out, it’s a lot easier to choose the path that’s most appropriate for your needs.

6 Proven Writing Paths for Writers

The next step is to consider all the different writing opportunities. Factor in your timeline and personal needs to determine which one is ideal for you.

  • For example, let’s say you’re looking to quit your day job as soon as possible …

Start by calculating how much money you’ll need in order to make that happen. If your number is high – such as six-figures – then you need to choose a writing opportunity that’s known to bring about higher-than-average incomes. You’ll also want something you can get into quickly.

In this case, I’d recommend copywriting or writing for the web. Grant writing is also a great option, and so is writing copy for the business-to-business market – especially if you want to get your writing career up-and-running as soon as possible.

  • Or, let’s say you just want to supplement your current salary or add to your retirement income …

A passive income stream might be the best way to go. If that’s the case, look into writing your own e-books or developing a Money Making Website.

If you’re not familiar, a Money Making Website is simply an information website that covers a topic you enjoy and is designed to attract web visitors. Once those visitors come to your site, you use a variety of methods to pull in passive revenue that doesn’t require you to sell anything and doesn’t demand regular monitoring … meaning once it’s set up, you’re free to spend your days as you please while doing very little website maintenance.

  • Maybe your goal for becoming a paid writer is just to have a little extra income on the side whenever needed, but with no regular commitment …

This could also be because your schedule is unpredictable, so you’d prefer shorter, quicker projects.

That’s where I’d recommend an easy business you can launch without having to spend too much time developing your skills, like resume writing or internet research. Both options are also things you can work on when you have the time or take an indefinite break from when needed.

  • Perhaps you enjoy the idea of the writer’s life, but you’re not interested in writing long-form copy …

If this sounds like you, social media marketing or video sales letters might be perfect for you. Both are writing opportunities that allow you to be creative, but you can do it with short posts and presentations – all of which pay quite well.

  • Another possibility is that you’d like to travel the world but need the means to do it …

In this case, travel writing is perfect for you. It’s not necessarily a writing opportunity that’ll make you rich, but it’s a proven way to score free travel deals. Often times, those free travel perks are at high-class resorts in dream-worthy destinations.

  • Or, it’s possible you just love writing and think it’d be great to make a little money on the side doing something you enjoy.

Consider getting into information-publishing. That way, you can write what you want when you want, whether its fiction, non-fiction, or informational publications, and you’ll be able to publish and market your work online.

All of these paths are proven writing opportunities that give you full freedom over your schedule and allow you to live life on your own terms.

rebecca_matter-150If you’d like to explore more ways to make a living as a writer, as well as get a little more information on some of the opportunities I shared today, check out my free report “It’s True! You Can Make a Good Living as a Writer!” where I cover nine of the best opportunities in more detail.

And then before next week, give it some thought, choose your first path, and then join me next week to tackle the big question, “now what?”

I’ll give you some practical advice to help you start moving forward.

Until then,
Rebecca

P.S. If you have any questions for me, or have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future issue, I invite you to contact me on Facebook, through AWAI or via my website, rebeccamatter.com.

 

 

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21. Catch up post – Inktober Day 26, 27, 28 and PiBoIdMo!

Here is my catch up post! A 3 in 1 :) We are getting down to the wire now, only a few days left of Inktober. I will miss it, but I will have PiBoIdMo to keep me occupied. What is it? It is Picture Book Idea Month. Every day, for 30 days, participants come up with an idea for a picture book story. It is a wonderful, creative project that I have participated in every year since 2009. More details at Tara Lazar’s blog!

Inktober 26

Morning bird & bugs 

Micron brush pen black & graphite

Inktober 27

Witch hat 

Micron brush pen black & graphite

Inktober 28

This isn’t scary…

Micron brush pen, micron 05 black, graphite

 

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22. Cats, Wives and Videotape: Survey Reveals What Really Distracts NaNoWriMo Participants

Gray tabby Lucy" by Andrei P on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/andreipapaz/)BY WILL LITTLE

The starting gun is set to go off for the race to 50,000 words. At an average of 1,667 words a day, NaNoWriMo participants don’t have time to waste if they’re to reach the finish line. Yet many writers do just that—waste time, and plenty of it. Distraction derails so many NaNoWriMo writers that blogging about their failure has turned into an act of mass distraction—just another activity that writers would rather do than actually write their novels.

Of course, distraction has always been the curse of the writer. The fear of filling the empty space with words that matter is enough to put even the most talented off their food. Even disciplinarian Ernest Hemingway defrosted the freezer to delay the inevitable pain of putting pen to paper. But we should especially pity contemporary writers because the 21st century has put distraction everywhere they lay their keyboards.

Our study of 1,500 writers across the U.S.—conducted anonymously to keep people honest—backs this up. Just about anything can get in the way of writing, from the Internet to pets to DVD box sets and even ice cream in November! While the need to distract may be caused by putting off the pain of creating quality work, there comes a point when the excuses have to end and the writing must begin. To begin with the best odds of writing 50,000 of your own words by November 30th, consider these survey results and tips:

Step away from the browser.
Our survey found that 52% of writers claimed to have not finished their masterpieces because they spent too much time browsing the Internet. Watching videos of parkour gone wrong or reading the daily headlines is preferable to creating beautiful prose … at least in the short term. Consider buying or renting an old-fashioned typewriter for a month and nailing shut the office door with the computer and Internet router on the other side. Alternatively, disconnect the internet with software, such as Stop Procrastinating, to write just like Hemingway. But make sure you defrost the freezer first.


 

wd1114_160

The November/December Writer’s Digest magazine 
is filled with advice for keeping the words coming. 
If you’re looking to increase your productivity or planning for NaNoWriMo, 
check out a preview in the Writer’s Digest Shop, or download it instantly.


Don’t feed the animals!
Or they’ll distract you. 7% of respondents claimed pets posed a risk to undermining their writing, with cats jumping on laps being the chief culprits. Consider hiring a petsitter for part of the month if your cat is especially fond of sitting on your keyboard.

Food, glorious food.
17% of writers surveyed said they’d eaten their word-count reward before they’d reached their day’s writing goal “at least once” during the month. That’s fine a time or two, but the habit of rewarding yourself for a goal you haven’t yet met can quickly spiral into marathon snacking sessions and very little writing. If you’re going to reward yourself with treats, here are some best practices for ensuring you stick to the goal: Put your treat into a container locked with a timer so you can’t access until you’ve worked your time. Enlist a friend or family member to withhold your goodies until you’ve completed the day’s work. Or consider that the real reward is reaching your daily writing goal—nothing more, nothing less will really satisfy you.

Honey, I’m home!
Partners, wives and husbands distracted 14% of respondents from laying down the lines. Netflix binges and leisurely cups of coffee were suggested as “creativity breaks”—a fancier term for “distractions.” If this sounds like something your significant other would do, there are solutions: Lock the door. Be clear about your goals. Set boundaries. And if those things fail, put a guard dog outside your writing room or have your partner sign a contract stating that he won’t disturb you while you’re writing—with a hefty fine to be paid if the contract is broken. Be creative about the fine; it doesn’t have to be financial. A massage every day for life would do nicely.

Work, party, work, party, work party …
22% of writers said they couldn’t summon up the creative muse because they were too tired from work or socializing. Try abstaining from partying for the month of November when possible (yes, we know it’s Thanksgiving) and look forward to celebrating with the mother of all parties on December 1st. If you’re tired from work, trying doing a half hour of exercise: it clears the mind and gives you energy to push through. Remember, it’s only for 30 days and it might just be worth it. You’re worth it!


Will Little is a writer and the creator of Stop Procrastinating, the app made by writers for writers to help beat procrastination. He also manages to write when his cat Moy isn’t sitting on his keyboard. Follow Will on Twitter at @stopprocras.

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23. on book dedications (and One Thing Stolen)

There comes that quiet time, in the life of a book, when we must make a decision or two about dedications. My son, my family, two editors, my agent, my students. I have had my reasons.

Yesterday, home from Hilton Head and binge-watching "Breaking Bad" in the late dark after a long work day, I stood, went to my office, and retrieved a galley copy of One Thing Stolen. I opened it to an early page, turned on the light, called to my husband.

I keep meaning to tell you, I said.


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24. West of the Moon (2014)

West of the Moon. Margi Preus. 2014. Abrams. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading Margi Preus' West of the Moon. Astri and her younger sister, Greta, have been left in the care of their aunt and uncle. Their father has gone to America. If all goes well, he will send for them. But their aunt and uncle aren't thrilled to have two additional mouths to feed, to put it kindly. The novel opens with the aunt selling Astri to a stranger, a goat farmer. Her time as his servant is unpleasant, horrible in fact. But she's planning an escape. Not just an escape, but a rescue mission too. She is planning on escaping, rescuing her sister, and somehow, someway, making it to America to find their father. Ambitious, yes, very much so. But Astri is resilient, strong, and determined.

The novel is titled West of the Moon. Throughout the book, Astri makes comparisons between her own life--her own miserable life--and fairy tales or folk tales. The one she uses most often is East of the Sun and West of the Moon. But there are other references as well.

West of the Moon is a historical coming of age story. It is a tale of survival. Astri is many things, as I've mentioned, but she's not perfect. Throughout the entire book, Astri is put into difficult situations, and sometimes a choice is required of her. Choices that will ultimately have consequences. Astri's decisions give readers something to think about perhaps.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Mary Amato, author of YA novel Get Happy, on divorce–and win a signed copy!

mary-amato-gethappy_web-500

I’m happy to host Mary Amato, YA author of Get Happy, today–talking about divorce and writing about painful issues. Readers, if you’d like to win a signed copy of Get Happy, please leave a comment on this post. US and Canada only. (I’m two days late on posting this; I’ve been sick. My apologies!) Take it away, Mary!


One of the central issues of Get Happy is how divorce can affect a child. Minerva’s father leaves when she is two, and she struggles with this throughout her childhood and into her teen years.

Divorce can be messy and the adults involved can sometimes fail to understand what the child needs. Minerva feels as if the subject is taboo and so she bottles up her questions and her emotions, which is the opposite of what she needs.

I know that my adult readers are not going to like the way the parents in this book behave. They aren’t good role models by any means. They’re flawed. They’re human.

To me, it’s important to write about all kinds of experiences because life is messy. Books can provide safe places to explore lots of different emotions.


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Author Bio:
Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s book author, songwriter, musician, puppeteer, and poet. She writes for children of all ages, and is beginning to focus on YA. Her first YA novel was Guitar Notes. Mary lives with her family outside Washington, DC, where she also performs regularly, singing and playing her own songs. Mary is a popular speaker and runs numerous workshops for teachers and students, including many on all aspects of creative writing, even songwriting. The author lives in Silver Spring, MD. You can visit her online at thrumsociety.


Readers! Leave a comment below to win a signed copy of Get Happy! (US and Canada only)

And check out the other stops along the tour.

Thursday, October 30, 2014
Reading Nook Reviews: Q&A and giveaway

Fandom Monthly: Giveaway

Rockin Book Reviews: Review and giveaway

Saturday, November 01, 2014
Adventures in YA Publishing: Question

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Children’s Book Review:
Guest Column and giveaway

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