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By: Becky Laney
Blog: Becky's Book Reviews
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The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1937. 320 pages. [Source: Bought]In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
I love The Hobbit. I do. This is my fourth time to review it. I first read it in May 2008
. I also reviewed it in 2012
. (The 2013 review being of The Annotated Hobbit!)
The Hobbit is an adventure story starring Bilbo Baggins (the hobbit) and thirteen dwarves (led by Thorin). Gandalf introduces the dwarfs to Bilbo, he introduces him as a great burglar. Is he a great burglar? Not really. He's never done anything of the sort before. He's never even thought of doing any such thing. Bilbo have an adventure? Bilbo go on a long journey? The idea that he, a comfort-loving hobbit would leave the safety of his shire to GO and steal from a dragon is ridiculous. Yet. Bilbo finds himself on such a journey. And Bilbo discovers that there is more to him. It's not that he suddenly becomes brave and strong and wise. He doesn't. But he's shaped by the experiences of the journey.
“Good Morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat. “What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?” “All of them at once,” said Bilbo.
“What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!” said Gandalf. “Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won’t be good till I move off.”
He liked visitors, but he liked to know them before they arrived, and he preferred to ask them himself. He had a horrible thought that the cakes might run short, and then he—as the host: he knew his duty and stuck to it however painful—he might have to go without.
“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!”
He was altogether alone. Soon he thought it was beginning to feel warm. “Is that a kind of a glow I seem to see coming right ahead down there?” he thought. It was. As he went forward it grew and grew, till there was no doubt about it. It was a red light steadily getting redder and redder. Also it was now undoubtedly hot in the tunnel. Wisps of vapour floated up and past him and he began to sweat. A sound, too, began to throb in his ears, a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring. This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep down there in the red glow in front of him. It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.
“You have nice manners for a thief and a liar,” said the dragon. “You seem familiar with my name, but I don’t seem to remember smelling you before. Who are you and where do you come from, may I ask?” “You may indeed! I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led. And through the air. I am he that walks unseen.” “So I can well believe,” said Smaug, “but that is hardly your usual name.” “I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number.” “Lovely titles!” sneered the dragon. “But lucky numbers don’t always come off.” “I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me.” “These don’t sound so creditable,” scoffed Smaug. “I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider,” went on Bilbo beginning to be pleased with his riddling. “That’s better!” said Smaug. “But don’t let your imagination run away with you!”
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
By: Barbara Fisher,
Nid-Nod said the daisies,
Nid-Nod the whispering breeze, Nid-Nod crooned the birdies - Nid-Nod the rustling trees. Nid - Nod winked the little stars in the soft evening light.The whole big world's a Nodding - Nid-Nod Nid-Nod goodnight.
This is a glorious collection of stories, poems, songs and prayers. There are games to play and things to do. Published by The Epworth Press, London, undated but c1953.
The stories include Betty and the dream man by Chris G Temple, The lost thimble by Elizabeth Gould Binks's tail by P. B. Longson, Seeing the world by Dorothy MacNulty, and Two grey kittens by Ruth Ainsworth.
One of four pretty endpapers
there is lots to see.
Heather and Geoffrey obviously loved The Lovesome Book
they spent a great deal of time colouring in the pictures and completing the dot-to-dots. I think mummy might have helped with the spots on the giraffe.
Smiling comes easily when looking at this gorgeous book.
Dandy the circus dog demonstrating one of his tricks.
More pretty pictures
Songs and prayers
Excellent colouring in
A bedtime story...
Nid-Nod said the daisies, Nid-Nod the whispering breeze, Nid-Nod crooned the birdies - Nid-Nod the rustling trees. Nid - Nod winked the little stars in the soft evening light.The whole big world's a Nodding - Nid-Nod Nid-Nod goodnight.The Lovesome Book For Little Folk
Thank you for your visit...
It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day!
AARRRGHH! The day snuck up on me! Captain Buzzard Jack LaBuse, herrre, mateys!And, just in case you're not sure how to Talk Like a Pirate, here are some key words ye be 'wantin' ta r'memberrr. Ahoy! - "Yo!"
Avast! - "Check it out!"
Aye! - "Yes."
Arrr! - "That's right!" (often confused with arrrgh...)
Arrrgh! - "I'm VERY miffed." So, weigh anchor. Hoist the mizzen. It's a terrrrrific day!And, in case yer hankerin' ta read about me mis-adventures, ye be a'clickin on this link to Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou!
(Don't make me come after ya!)
Heeeerrr's one of me treacherous scenes from Curse of the Bayou!
Gasp! I was soaked and struggling for air, but there wasn't any! Coughing…that's a good sign. At least my lungs were trying to work. Had a huge wave come over the side during the night? I nudged Cynthia with my elbow. "Ahhhh! Where did that water come from?" she cried. "So, you're finally awake, eh?" Buzzard Jack's voice chilled the air even more. "Nice job, Snags." The shadow of the captain fell over us, blocking out the morning sun. His helper, Snags was grinning idiotically, holding a wooden bucket. An empty wooden bucket, I might add. I spit out the remaining drops of water I'd ingested, and glared. "Don't blame me," Snags laughed. If yer mouth hadn't been hanging open like a newborn guppy, you wouldn't a choked." I felt a confirming nudge in my back, but Cynthia didn't laugh. Nothing was funny. Captain Jack didn't think so, either. He leaned down until the brim of his black hat was inches from making contact with Cynthia's forehead. "You will tell me where to find the watch. It may be now. It may be later. But, I can assure you, the longer it takes, the more uncomfortable you will become." He stood up. "So, what's it going to be? I promise to untie you and your little friend, give you a good meal, some water, and send you back to land, unharmed." Oh, sure. That'll happen. I may only be twelve, but I wasn't born yesterday. Neither his threats nor his "promises" had any effect on Cynthia. "I told you last night. I don't have it."
I knew when Cynthia was telling the truth and…she was telling the truth. Thinking back to finding the watch in the Conners' barn, I remembered watching Cynthia put it in her pocket. What happened to it after that was a mystery. But, we'd better find out, and soon, because the captain was now standing over me.
And, in case this doesn't interest you, I hear there's a free doughnut to be had at Krispy Kreme Facebook! Free Doughnut!
FilmNation Entertainment has picked up the movie rights to Danica Novgorodoff’s The Undertaking of Lily Chen.
The studio plans to adapt the story into a Chinese-language film. Brendan Deneen, executive editor of the Macmillan Entertainment Group, and Mark Siegel, editorial director of the First Second imprint, will serve as executive producers.
According to Variety, Novgorodoff drew inspiration from an article in The Economist about the Chinese tradition of port-mortem marriage. Follow this link to see pages from the book on Novgorodoff’s website.
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
The ideal circumstances in which you can create include ample free time, an absence of worries, and at least one enthusiastic supporter cheering you on. You might experience that lucky combination—or even two of the three components—once in a very long while.
In your actual life, things break, neighbors need help, and work-as-obligation fills up the hours and then the calendar. The concept of “balance” becomes a glittery myth.
You do what you can. You attend to the broken things. You take care of your neighbors (and we are all neighbors). Joyfully (or sometimes begrudgingly), you pay your dues. You wedge your creative spurts into the cracks, and you relish each happy slice.
You learn to recognize those glorious moments when everything falls into place in spite of the circumstances, and then you get busy. You make hay—or poems or paintings or pots—while the sun shines.
You do your best. And you know what, kiddo?
The quarry road tumbles toward me
out of the early morning darkness,
lustrous with frost, an unrolled bolt
of softly glowing fabric, interwoven
with tiny glass beads on silver thread,
the cloth spilled out and then lovingly
smoothed by my father’s hand
as he stands behind his wooden counter
(dark as these fields) at Tilden’s Store
so many years ago. “Here,” he says smiling,
“you can make something special with this.”
Ted Kooser, Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim HarrisonBook Giveaway
Enter by September 26 for a chance to win an autographed copy of Barbara Krasner’s picture book biography Goldie Takes a Stand!
JoAnn Early Macken
Yesterday we went out to visit John Finley's cattle ranch, a half hour drive down a remote dirt road on the east fork of the the Wind River here in Wyoming.
John is a working cowboy and a scrimshandler whose grandfather established the farm over a hundred years ago, not far from Butch Cassidy's spread.
I set up my watercolor rig next to an old log cabin which was festooned with rusty coyote traps.
I was attracted to the way the traps were reflected in the window against the bright sky behind us. Since the reflection of the clouds was the lightest value, my first step was to run a wash over all the other whites, including the window mullions, the mortar, and shelf of mildewy old magazines seen through the window.
(link to Soundcloud audio track)
The traps speak to the constant life and death struggle of ranch existence. John told us a story of having to shoot a mountain lion as it was devouring one of his bottle-fed calves.
A week ago, a surveyor was found mauled to death by grizzlies not far from here. None of us artists are allowed to venture off without a bottle of bear spray.
The authorities relocate the Yellowstone man-killers in this remote area, on the fringes of the Wind River Indian Reservation. As another cowboy, John Phelps told us, "Grizzlies are no joke."
Biography of John P Finley
Painted in a Pentalic sketchbook with Schmincke watercolors using a Richeson travel brush set
Download Watercolor in the Wild video
Beware: Do not succumb to a personal crisis as protagonist reaches darkest moment. Evoke the emotion in your writing
The recent tweet elicited a question by Laura: What do you mean by this? This is intriguing.
Way back in January 2013, in honor of the release of my most recent PW book: The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End)
, I began writing a new novel using one or more prompts everyday. I invited you to join me in writing a story with a plot from beginning to end. Weekly, I shared insights into the creation and significance of the prompts.
On a personal level, writing gave me an escape from what was more and more becoming a disastrous living arrangement. Without going into detail, my life was falling apart.
As I approached the 3/4 mark writing my novel, the prompts daily drew me page-by-page nearer to the moment of disaster, crisis, dark night of what was developing into quite a dark story. My emotional state, refusing to accept any more drama, pain, hurt, betrayal, shame, disappointment, resisted. I stopped writing the story.
I couldn't, however, stop the personal crisis that had been growing incident by incident into a full-blown mess, stripping me of all the truths I'd lived my entire life and leaving me alone to sort through tattered illusions, every one of them.
After more than a year and lots of work and thanks in large part to my belief and understanding of the Universal Story, I've found peace. Finally, I'm ready to finish following the prompts to the end of The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End)
and not only write the crisis of my novel, write her triumph while fully embracing my own.
I invite you to join me. Dig out that story you never moved beyond the middle. That story you gave up when the middle muddled, the crisis loomed, the end mocked you, find it and dust it off. I'm taking this weekend to drag out my notes, organize the Plot Planner and my writing cave. I'm not going to read what I've already written. I know what's waiting and am finally ready to face and write the inevitable. Join me.***
Laura, this is just one example of what I mean by not letting a personal crisis strike. I write in depth about how your writing life often parallels your story development in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.
Today I write!~~~~~~~~For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer
books for writers
Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:
ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.
Blog: John Manders' Blog
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Heave on your futtock-shrouds and don’t leave your swashes unbuckled! ‘Tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day!
Don’t forget: If you are anywhere near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, shape a course for The Art Center (819 Ligonier Street) where I’ll talk about illustrating pirates this evening from 6:30 – 8:30. If you miss it, I’ll be at The Art Center again tomorrow morning 10:00 – 11:00ish (we need to clear the decks before noon—when some poor lubber’s wedding takes place).
As promised, here are the answers to yesterday’s M is for Movie Pirates Quiz:
First row: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean (2006). Second row: (left to right) Douglas Fairbanks in The Black Pirate (1926); Robert Newton as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1950); Sherman the parrot; Errol Flynn as Captain Blood (1935). Third row: Charles Laughton as Captain Kidd (1945); (Charlton Heston as Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1990); Dustin Hoffman as Hook (1991); Walter Matthau as Captain Red in Pirates (1986). Fourth row: Maureen O’Hara as Prudence ‘Spitfire’ Stevens in Against All Flags (1952); Laird Cregar as Sir Henry Morgan in The Black Swan (1942); Kevin Kline as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance (1983); Graham Chapman as Yellowbeard (1983).
By: J. S. Watt,
Today I choose to laugh;
when most would break down and cry.
Today I choose to hope;
when some would never try.
Today I choose life & living;
as I watch the old things die.
Today I break free
from all that holds me
and I raise my tattered wings
A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.
Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between September 19 – September 15 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
I’m up against a deadline, so this will be brief.
If you’re a Laura fan like I am and you haven’t heard of this amazing opportunity, let me fill you in. Pamela Smith Hill of Missouri State University is teaching a free online course about Laura starting Monday, September 22. Click here to learn more. You might have heard Laura’s long-awaited autobiography has recently released. Pamela Smith Hill is its editor.
This is a class for Laura fans and for those curious about authorship (how much of a role did daughter Rose play in the creation of the Little House series?), the fuzzy lines between historical fiction and memoir, and the complex, sometimes uncomfortable portrayal of pioneers and natives.
I’ve ordered Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life (South Dakota Biography) and Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. I’ve got all the others. So looking forward to digging in!
If you’re taking the course, please let me know. I’d love to talk about it.
From the course description page:
Little House In The Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0060581808
Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400034
Little House On The Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400026
On The Banks Of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder, HarperCollins, 0064400042
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life, Pamela Smith Hill, South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 097779556X
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Edition, Pamela Smith Hill, South Dakota State Historical Society Press
Young Pioneers, Rose Wilder Lane, HarperCollins, 0064406989
The post A Free Online Course on Laura Ingalls Wilder appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.
So, I saw that movie based on a YA novel about teens in love who are faced with questions of life and death. No, not that one, at least not most recently. I’m talking about the New Line Cinema/MGM adaptation of Gayle Forman’s 2009 novel If I Stay, directed by R. J. Cutler and released August 22, 2014. (Warning: If you stay with this post, you’ll find some major spoilers.)
When I went looking for a viewing companion, the premise produced shudders from more than one friend. For the uninitiated, the title refers to seventeen-year-old Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz)’s wrenching decision to go on living — or not — as she observes her comatose body after a car accident that left her critically injured and the rest of her family even worse.
In case you haven’t noticed, YA movies are hot these days, and studios seem to get that the books are hot, too. Like The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, and other recent movies based on YA novels, this one keeps its story very close to the original text. Mia’s cello playing is important in the book, and so it’s important in the movie, too, even though it’s not as “Hollywood” as her boyfriend Adam’s (Jamie Blackley) rock band.
If I Stay is a cinematically paced book, which helps. Forman alternates between scenes of Mia’s pre-accident life and the post-accident drama. This structure saves both the book and the movie from long strings of hospital scenes and breaks up the emotional intensity with happier moments that increase our emotional investment in these characters. Mia’s rocker parents, affably performed by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard, and little brother Teddy, played by a sincere Jakob Davies, are simply fun and lovable characters; we want to spend time with them and understand why Mia does, too.
Though the movie mostly adopts the book’s pacing, it does make a few significant tweaks. In the book, Mia and the reader find out very quickly (and slightly more graphically) that both parents have died. The movie ratchets up tension by revealing her mother’s death later and having her father live long enough to arrive at the hospital. The change creates more reasons to keep watching the hospital scenes: Mia has hope for her family early on, and viewers who haven’t read the book (or, well, seen the trailer) might be on the edge of their seats. Teddy’s death comes later in both the book and the movie — but as movie-Mia stays in the same hospital instead of being helicoptered out, she finds out much more directly and it’s more of a defining moment.
If you thought Mia and Adam’s undying-unless-she-goes-to-Julliard love was a little cheesy in the book, you’ll find the same goops of cheddar in the movie. But neither book nor movie pretends their relationship is perfect, and the movie makes their conflict harsher but bases it on the same issues. Although the ending is essentially the same, Adam’s promises leading up to it manage to make the love story more sentimental. (These changes in Mia and Adam’s relationship also make it seem less likely that the studio plans to film the 2011 book sequel, Where She Went.)
Just like that other tear-jerking YA movie about love and mortality, this one emphasizes the choices its characters get to make. Even before Mia must decide whether to live, she’s deciding what to do with her life. Maybe that’s what so many teens like about these kinds of stories. Teens are at a time in their lives when even ordinary decisions start to have higher stakes. There’s something validating about stories that acknowledge that, in some cases, a teenage life is an entire life, and maybe something reassuring about seeing teens confronted with questions so big that choices about school and relationships seem lighter.
Yes, these tragic tales show that some things are beyond teens’ control, but they also make it clear that some things aren’t.
The post If I Stay movie review appeared first on The Horn Book.
By: Diana Hurwitz,
Blog: Game On! Creating Character Conflict
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This week, we continue to add to our collection of rhetorical devices.
Parallelism uses balance and three beats following a sentence or clause with a phrase that starts with a similar kind of word (adjective, adverb or noun).
The book was damaged1, damaged beyond all hope of repair2. (balance) Jane loved him more for it1, more than she loved her books2, more than she loved herself3. (3 beats) Personification attributes an animal or inanimate object with human characteristics. The book hid its secrets from her.
Phatics are used to begin or interrupt the flow of a sentence without adding meaning to it and act as speed bumps. They are used to strengthen the connection to the reader and can impart a confidential tone. It can raise or lower the dramatic potential of a clause, it can emphasize an important claim, certify content, or negate content. Be sure they are not used to preface an information dump. They include, but are not limited to:
- after a fashion
- after all
- after all is said and done
- almost inevitably
- amazingly enough
- and I agree that it is
- and whatnot
- as a matter of fact
- as everybody knows
- as I believe is the case
- as is widely known
- as it happens
- as it turns out
- as I’ve pointed out
- as unlikely as it may seem
- as we can see
- as you can see
- at any rate
- believe it or not
- curiously enough
- fittingly enough
- for God’s sake
- for some reason
- for that matter
- how are you
- I am reminded
- I can’t help but wonder
- I might add
- I suppose
- if conditions are favorable
- if I may call it that
- if time permits
- if truth be known
- if you get right down to it
- if you know what I mean
- if you must know
- in a way
- in a sense
- in my mind
- in point of fact
- in spite of everything
- in the final analysis
- it goes without saying
- it is important to note
- it is important to remember
- it occurs to me
- it seems to me
- it turns out
- just between us
- just between you and me
- let’s face it
- let me tell you
- make no mistake
- my Lord
- not to mention
- of course
- one might ask
- or as unlikely as it may seem
- shall we say
- strangely enough
- to a certain extent
- to be honest
- to my dismay
- to everyone’s surprise
- to no one’s surprise
- to my relief
- to my way of thinking
- to some extent
- what's up
- we should remember
- when all is said and done
- you know
- you know what
Next week, we will contine to stock your prose shelf.
For the complete list of spices and other revision layers, pick up a copy of:
In neon running shoes I race
through sand, sprint
through the rainbow
droplets of a sprinkler,
run straight up a waterfall,
Shoot out a purple cloud
of squid ink so no one
can see me jetting
through the ocean
on You'll never catch me! bubbles.
- from the verse novel Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
Learn more about Poetry Friday.
Chuck D, of the legendary rap group, Public Enemy, once said, that Hip-Hop was the CNN of music.
Well, if this statement is true, Eric Graham, the creative mind behind the cartoon character Bobbee Bee "The Hater," which is a clever acronym that stands for H
.eality, just gave the world a sneak peak into the subconscious mind of young Black males living in America, in general, with his latest controversial song entitled Mr. Officer
, which was recorded at Payroll Studio in High Point, NC by the legendary Supreme DJ Nyborn.
Especially, after the shooting death of an unarmed 17 year old teenager named Michael Brown, whose body was left in the middle of the street for at least 5 hours after he was shot down in broad daylight by a storm of bullets from the gun of officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, St. Louis.
With the tragic event becoming headline news, which led to riot police wearing military-style uniforms, while displaying military-style weaponry along with armored tanks and tear gas, Graham, who is a "journalist by day and a rapper by night,"
tried to capture the raw emotion, anger, and rage building up in the minds of young Black males as well as the entire Black community with his latest release, Mister Officer,
which reminds many Hip-Hoppers of the 1988 protest song "F#*@ da Police" by N.W.A, which appears on highly anticipated mix tape/slash album called Pocket Full of Ghetto Poems,
that was dropped days before the independent film Bobbee Bee "The Hater"
The Movie, which was written and directed by him and his brother Terrence Graham, was shown at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, NC on Saturday.
With the song currently appearing on SoundCloud-and floating around on Internet, the "part-time" rhyme spitter plans to release the video to the song on Facebook this Sunday.
Yes, these are Revolutionary Ideas that you can feel...
So, get ready!!!
Because, this small-town MC with Big City Dreams, next single called Revolutionary Suicide
, which was inspired by the writings of legendary Black Panther member, Huey P. Newton, is scheduled to drop in two more weeks.
For more information contact Eric D.Graham at email@example.com
Just as the world thought they had seen the last of the great tabloid trials in 2009 when Brooke Astor’s son was found guilty of looting his philanthropist mother’s estate of millions, two years later another equally contentious case made its way into the New York Court System.
—by Sharon Hazard
In the fall of 2011 long-lost relatives of the reclusive heiress, Huguette Clark marched into Manhattan Surrogate’s Court on Chambers Street seeking a share of her millions and for the next two and a half years, author Meryl Gordon was there to witness it all. No stranger to the system, Gordon had covered the Brooke Astor circus and had written a book, Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach, based on her astute observations of the famous trial and the cast of characters involved.
According to Gordon, “When 104- year-old Huguette Clark’s obituary appeared on page one of the New York Times on May 25, 2011, her publisher, Grand Central called. Since my first book, had centered on the final years of another memorable Social Register centenarian, they thought of me for this project, which would come to be titled, The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Mysterious Death of Heiress Huguette Clark.”
Three years later, after many interviews and a massive amount of research, Gordon had the manuscript ready, or so she thought. The author said, “I actually wrote two entirely different versions of the book.” The first one had the usual suspects, well-meaning relatives, loyal care-givers, a lawyer and accountant under investigation for mismanaging Huguette’s affairs and the star witness, Hadassah Peri, Clark’s long-time caregiver who was primed to inherit the bulk of the Clark Family fortune.
Then came a delectable dilemma that any investigative writer would find hard to pass up. More research became available to her. Seventy-six boxes chock full of archival material removed from Huguette Clark’s Fifth Avenue apartment filled-with tell-tale tidbits of information that would put a new spin on her story.
The litigators presenting the case recognized Gordon as a well-respected journalist and director of Magazine Writing at New York University and knew she would give a balanced account of the proceedings. After four sets of lawyers signed off, Gordon was allowed several days to go through mountains of new information revealing intimate details about the woman who for the last twenty years had chosen to hide from the world in a drab hospital room in New York City while still owning three sprawling apartments on Fifth Avenue, a 23-acre oceanfront compound in Santa Barbara, California, original artwork, rare antique furnishings and jewelry worth millions.
After sifting through each box and reading Clark’s personal diary, love letters, many of which were in French and seeing receipts dating back to the 1930s for jewelry purchased at Cartier’s, Gordon knew she had to begin revising her book about Huguette who hadn’t seen her relatives since 1968 nor stepped outside her hospital room since 1981. Now on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List, the Phantom of Fifth Avenue is both a biography and the story of the high-stakes fight over Huguette Clark’s $300 million fortune.
About writing the book, Gordon noted, “I was able to talk to virtually all the key players in this legal battle and I have tried to explain how Huguette’s unusual life-choices and complicated relationships led to this public drama.”
Gordon said, “Going into this project I knew very little other than what the tabloids were reporting about this mysterious millionairess, but as I got to know Huguette Clark, the woman born in Paris in 1906 and raised in a 121- room Beaux Arts mansion on Fifth Avenue through her own words, I found her to be a warm and talented person and I had affection for her at the end.”
What began as a courtroom tell-all ended up exposing a very private person as a personality worth far more than the millions left to her by her father, Senator William Andrews Clark. The copper magnate was the second richest man in America when he died in 1925.
Gordon said, “Huguette wanted to make everyone around her happy, even if it cost her a fortune.”
Good news: The end is nigh! Finally, finally my current WIP, The Abyssal Plain, is just a few pages away from being finished. It's a great feeling, tinged, I must add, with a little sadness. No more exciting adventures for my characters. No more characters! No more figuring out how to get them from A to B. And rather than designing their homes and wardrobes, it's time to move on to marketing. Ugh.
Marketing has never been my favorite part of writing. Query letters, synopses, pitching--they've all been pretty scary to me. I know how small the window is for attracting the attention of an editor or agent, and I know how easily they can delete or ignore whatever they receive.
So that's why I want to turn everything upside down. I want to enjoy marketing, and I want to create marketing materials that will be read. My two main goals are:
- That I feel relaxed about writing my query and synopses (in all their wonderful forms, e.g., 1-page, 2-page, 3-page--you know how it goes), and,
- That whatever I write be easy to read. After all, who has the time to pore over pages and pages of convoluted story telling when all anyone wants to know is: what is the story about?
To that end I've come up with a new approach: Before I write a single letter or outline, I'm going to brainstorm three types of 12-point lists:
Once I have my lists completed, I can then decide what is truly important in each, and what I can put into a single document to be edited and narrowed down even further until I hit pay dirt.
- An ABOUT MY STORY list. This list will include whatever is relevant to sales, e.g., genre, word count, why I wrote the story, who are my potential readers.
- A 12-point EVENTS THAT HAPPEN IN THE STORY list, in other words, the top 12 plot points and why they matter.
- A 12-point CHARACTER ATTRIBUTE LIST for each of my major players.
I’ve always liked listing things in groups of twelve, (something I wrote about in my Take Twelve blog post) finding it a good way to focus and brainstorm at the same time. Aiming for twelve points on any subject seems to help me go beyond the obvious without going overboard and including too much information. My hope is that using the technique for my marketing will turn what has previously been a dreaded task into a good experience I'll look forward to. Wish me luck!
Tip of the Day: What are the top 12 things you can say about your current WIP? Listing the most important points could be a great way to not only sell your book, but to get it organized before you write it, too!
As a school librarian, I love helping kids and teachers discover the opportunities that technology offers for learning, creating and engaging with the world. Whether it's through the power of creating a multimedia presentation about a book they've loved, or the fun of competing with friends while kids play math games online, technology offers our children opportunities to learn in new ways.
Many schools are offering "one-to-one" programs where each child has their own personal computing device, whether it's a laptop, iPad or Chromebook. But in California, we operate on a very limited budget. So my question has been: how can I make an impact as a school librarian by looking for smaller funding opportunities? How can I increase access to technology in smaller, incremental ways?
With this in mind, I am presenting at this year's ALSC Institute
a session called "Tech Access on a Budget
". This conference is for children's librarians across the United States, through a division of the American Library Association
called ALSC: Association for Library Services to Children
. I wanted to share our presentation here.
I am presenting with three other dynamic, smart, passionate women and have learned so much creating this presentation. Talk about the power of technology -- we had never met in person before we showed up 30 minutes before our presentation! All of our connections had been through email, Google video chats and conference calls.
Cen Campbell is the founder of LittleeLit.com, "a crowd-sourced, grass-roots professional learning network that works to develop promising practices for the incorporation of new media into library collections, services and programs for families with young children." This is a terrific resource for librarians. I first reached out to Cen because of her work with young children in a public library setting, and I wanted to combine our school and public library perspectives. Cen was a member of ALSC's Children and Technology Committee and I'm a member of AASL's Best Apps Committee.
Suzanne Flint is a child development expert who works for the California State Library, helping administer the federal grants provided by the Library Services and Technology Act. She has provided an invaluable perspective both as a funder and as a child development expert. Suzanne and Cen have worked together developing the initiative: Early Learning with Families 2.0.
Claudia Haines is a children's librarian at Homer Public Library in Homer, Alaska, in rural south-central Alaska. Integrating interactive digital media into offerings like storytime is part of Claudia’s efforts to inspire kids to use a variety of tools to create and explore at the library. Definitely check out Claudia's blog, Never Shushed.
We had our first presentation yesterday and are presenting again today. We know that many librarians cannot travel to the ALSC Institute -- please share this with librarians you think would be interested. And I know we would all be happy to answer any questions you have about our experiences increasing children's access to technology in developmentally appropriate ways.©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
Don't believe everything you're told about writing dialogue.
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations2014 Longlist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature
from the National Book Foundation:
- Laurie Halse Anderson, The Impossible Knife of Memory (Viking)
- Gail Giles, Girls Like Us (Candlewick)
- Carl Hiaasen, Skink—No Surrender (Knopf)
- Kate Milford, Greenglass House (Clarion)
- Eliot Schrefer, Threatened (Scholastic)
- Steve Sheinkin, The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights(Roaring Brook)
- Andrew Smith, 100 Sideways Miles (Simon & Schuster)
- John Corey Whaley, Noggin (Atheneum)
- Deborah Wiles, Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two (Scholastic)
- Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen)
See also Gail Giles on Writing Across Mental Abilities
.More NewsAsking an Editor: Hooking a Reader Early
by Stacy Whitman
from Lee & Low. Peek: "How do you get your writing to have that “zing” that captivates from the very beginning?" See also Stacy on Nailing the Story
.Intersectionality and Disability
by Corrine Duyvis from Disability in Kid Lit. Peek: "Why is it that diversity in young adult, middle grade, and children’s literature is often represented as an either/or, without intersectionality? Characters can either be autistic or gay, for example, or a wheelchair user or Black, but rarely both."No Name by Tim Tingle (Seventh Generation, 2014)
: a recommendation by Debbie Reese
from American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "Choose your framework for sharing it: It is a basketball story; it is a realistic story of alcoholism; it is a story about the Choctaw people."When It Comes to Creativity, Are Two Heads Better Than One?
from NPR Books. Peek: "'We think of Martin Luther King and Sigmund Freud and Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs as these great solo creators, but in fact, if you look into the details of their life, they are enmeshed in relationships all the way through.'"Not Enough Willpower to Meet Your Goals? Make Mini-Habits.
By Kristi Holl from Writer's First Aid. Peek: "For me, feeling overwhelmed and getting started has always been the hardest part. Having mini goals in order to create habits is so easy
."Writers--Be Careful How You Sit
from Elizabeth Spann Craig. Peek: "We thought we had the kinds of jobs where injuries might be limited to paper cuts or possibly dropping a laptop on our foot."What Nobody Tells You About Publishing Deadlines
by Cavan Scott from An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. Peek: "...deadlines can shift when you least expect it, which can have a house of cards effect."Blasting the Canon: Teach Stories that Speak to Young Readers
by Randy Ribay
from The Horn Book. Peek: "Great books are published every year, whether or not they end up on some school’s curriculum or a bestseller list."Four Tools for the Writing Parent
by Joanna Roddy
from Project Mayhem. Peek: "Here are four tools that have helped to ground me and other writers I know in the midst of a life that sometimes feels like it's been reduced to tantrums, skipped naps, and bleary-eyed late night feedings."Giving Up The Giver to Hollywood: A Q&A Interview with Lois Lowry
by Jessica Gross from The New York Times. Peek: "...in the book she’s 12, and in the movie she’s 16. I advised them that some of the costumes were too sexy. And so the hem was dropped a little bit."Middle Grade & YA: Where to Draw the Line?
by Judith Rosen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "We ask booksellers across the country to weigh in." Five Important Ways to Use Symbolism in Your Stories
by Becca Puglisi
from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "How do we come up with the right symbols in the first place? What should they be symbolic of? And how do we incorporate them into our stories without making them so obvious we lose all their symbolic value?"Marketing Tips for Authors and Agents
by Elisabeth Weed
from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "I’ve come to peace with the fact that there are many facets of the business which I can not control but that there’s power and autonomy in focusing on the things that we can."On Giving Feedback
by Peter Biello
from Burlington Writer's Workshop. Peek: "I want to focus our attention today on one of the thorniest circumstances, and of course the one with which I have a great deal of experience, and that’s the process of giving feedback to a writer who is working on an early or late draft of an unpublished piece."Evil, Insane, Envious and Ethical: The Four Types of Villain
by K.M. Weiland
from Fiction Notes. Peek: "They’re not simple black-and-white caricatures trying to lure puppies to the dark side by promising cookies. They’re real people. They might be our neighbors. Gasp! They might even be us!"How to Hook a Literary Agent: 16 Agents Share What Gets Them Reading
by Jan Lewis from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: "Want to get a literary agent? Tired of getting rejected?"Diversity 101: Gay in YA
by Adam Silvera
from CBC Diversity. Peek: "...if you’re not gay but want to write characters who are, don’t simply turn to current gay culture to craft your character. Common mistakes include gay guys being automatically interested in fashion and Lady Gaga, and lesbian girls competing in sports or fighting all the time."How to Publicize Your Children's Book
by Paula Yoo
from Lee & Low. Peek: "To my shock, this “out of the box” creative publicity idea not only worked… but it went viral
."Rejection Stamina: How Much Can You Take?
by Kristi Holl
from Writer's First Aid. Peek: "She (Meg Cabot) points to her own experience with rejection, and I challenge you to read this without fainting..."The Surprising Importance of Doing Nothing
by Robin LaFevers
from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "...in a world where output, production, and speed are the gold standard, it’s important to remind ourselves that fast doesn’t always mean better. For some people, speed gets in the way of producing their richest, deepest, most creative work."Picture Book Month Promotion Kit
-- get ready for November!Courage and Confidence
by Kristi Holl
from Writer's First Aid. Peek: "Sometimes I think we spend too much time analyzing our fears as a way to bolster our courage. Maybe–just maybe–the problem would take care of itself if we planted our seats in our seats and worked harder."Tales of Reconciliation Rooted in Judaism
by Janni Lee Simner from Arizona Jewish Post.Join author Sharon G. Flake in Telling the World #IAMUNSTOPPABLE
from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: "On Sept. 30, my new novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, will hit bookstores nationwide. On that day I would love you and/or the young people you influence to join me in shouting out to the world that they too are unstoppable by holding up the following sign, words, image: I AM UNSTOPPABLE #UNSTOPPABLEOCTOBIAMAY.Why Does the Opening of John Green's The Fault In Our Stars Work?
by Deborah Halverson
from Dear Editor. Peek: "It’s the right time to enter her life even though the action isn’t bold. John Green then startles readers with first lines that defy expectations..."Transparency is Paramount: Consider the Source
by Tanya Lee Stone from School Library Journal. Peek: "...the problem arises when I feel duped or manipulated into thinking I am reading nonfiction and discovering I am not—or worse, not being able to determine whether anything was made up, save writing to the author."A Conversation with Norwegian Author-Illustrator Stien Hole
by Julie Danielson from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: "I am a collector of bits and pieces that I move around and try to put together. That is what I do for a living. Like in a theater, I have a huge prop stock." Note: click the link if only to be mesmerized by Hole's art work--gorgeous and fascinating.Cynsational Screening Room This Week at CynsationsMore Personally
My most heartfelt and enthusiastic congratulations to my former Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers
advanced novel workshop student Yamile Saied Mendez
on her admission to the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults
Congratulations to Greg Leitich Smith
and my many other friends who were selected as 2014 Featured Authors at the Texas Book Festival
! Kudos also to Greg on his characters from Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn
(Roaring Brook, 2014) making the 2013-2014 Yearbook Superlatives
from The Horn Book. Guys Lit Wire
says of the novel, "This is a cool book about friendship, about overcoming obstacles and about being open to different possibilities. The laid back first person viewpoint makes it accessible to a wide variety of readers."
Check out the cover for Things I'll Never Say: Stories of Our Secret Selves
, edited by Ann Angel
(Candlewick/Brilliance, 2015), which will include my short story, "Cupid's Beaux," which is set in the Tantalize
universe and told from the point of view of the guardian angel Joshua.
From the promotional copy:
Fifteen top young-adult authors let us in on provocative secrets in a fascinating collection that will have readers talking.
A baby no one knows about. A dangerous hidden identity. Off-limits hookups. A parent whose problems your friends won’t understand. Everyone keeps secrets—from themselves, from their families, from their friends—and secrets have a habit of shaping the lives around them. Acclaimed author Ann Angel brings together some of today’s most gifted YA authors to explore, in a variety of genres, the nature of secrets: Do they make you stronger or weaker? Do they alter your world when revealed? Do they divide your life into what you'll tell and what you won't? The one thing these diverse stories share is a glimpse into the secret self we all keep hidden.
With stories by Ann Angel; Kerry Cohen
; Louise Hawes
; Varian Johnson
; erica l. kaufman
; Ron Koertge
; E. M. Kokie
; Chris Lynch
; Kekla Magoon
; Zoë Marriott
; Katy Moran
; J. L. Powers
; Mary Ann Rodman
; Cynthia Leitich Smith; and Ellen Wittlinger
My fun link of the week: Kidlit Mashups (AKA Merged Children's Book Sequels)
The smartest one: Why You Don't Need to Rush Your Writing
by Meg Rosoff
from Writer Unboxed.
And the one that makes me dream: 20 Writing Residency You Should Apply for This Year
Personal LinksCynsational EventsP.J. Hoover will speak and sign Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life
at 2 p.m. Sept. 20 at The Book Spot. Divya Srinivasan will speak and sign Little Owl's Day
at 3 p.m. Sept. 20 at BookPeople in Austin. Lindsey Lane will speak and sign Evidence of Things Not Seen
at 2 p.m. Sept. 21 at BookPeople in Austin.Greg Leitich Smith
will speak and sign at Tweens Read
Sept. 27 at South Houston High School in Pasadena, Texas. Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak on a panel "Where Are the Heroes of Color in Fantasy & Sci Fi Lit?"
from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 15 at YALSA's YA Literature Symposium in Austin.
Du Maurier called the house her “rat-filled ruin.” It wasn’t hyperbole. Rats, dozens of them, scuttled along the house’s floors at night. Bats flit in and out. It was freezing, too, even by the stoic standards of the time, and damp, with a hard, nipping cold rising off the sea. Scarves and hats were routinely worn indoors.
— I wrote about Daphne du Maurier and the Manderley estate she bought with her Rebecca $ at the new Gawker Review of Books! It was so much fun to write—I’ve loved du Maurier forever and wanted to write about her life since coming across this picture of her last year.
Fairest Vol. 3: The Return of the Maharaja Sean E. Williams, Bill Willingham, Stephen Sadowski, Phil Jimenez
Check it out! Prince Charming is alive! And back!
And that’s the best thing I can say about this volume.
After dying in the battle against the adversary, Prince Charming comes back (which we all knew he would eventually, right? He’s much too powerful) but doesn’t want to go back to the mundy and instead becomes a ruler in an Indus fable world. There he meets a woman, Nalayani, who’s come to ask for help. Her village lost all its men to the adversary and is now constantly being attacked by roaming bands and they’re about to be wiped out. Charming is also facing issues as there are those who aren’t fond of having a white foreigner ruling them.*
I do like Nalayani because she’s awesome, but she’s also a new character and not having lived with her for years, I just didn’t care as much about her as I did about Charming or some of the other Fables characters.
Charming… has lost a lot of character growth. When we first met him, he was an arrogant ass, but over the series he had mellowed and matured, but he’s reverted back to all jack-ass charm and lost what made him a deeper, more likeable character.
But here’s my real problem-- the great romances of Fables have all been a slow burn building up through multiple story arcs. If Charming is *finally* going to meet someone for him, someone “better” than Snow or Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, we need the slow burn. We need to get to know Nalayani, we need to see them get to know each other and fall in love. The whole execution seemed rush and I never bought that Charming liked her more than he likes most awesome women, and Nalayani’s affections seem to turn on a dime. Overall, its was just really disappointing.
*this is problematic, as Charming is set up as the good guy, and those who aren’t into colonization are the bad guys. It's kinda worked out in the end, but ergh. But this whole issue is ergh, so...
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Author Mac Barnett gave a TED talk on “why a good book is a secret door.” Barnett revealed that his occupation is to “lie to children” otherwise known as writing children’s books. He claims that with his work, he tells “honest lies.”
Barnett shared stories about how he established his career and his insights on the power of fiction. We’ve embedded a video showcasing the entire presentation above. Share your opinion—can writing lies expose truth?
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
By: Terry Hooper-Scharf,
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I think Stransky & Labatt were of the same opinion as myself so, when I got these yesterday they were scanned and ready.