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1. EIGHT MAGIC WORDS by Penny Dolan

Ooops! I'm dashing on to today's ABBA page, half out of breath! 

A rare and unexpected holiday has shoved the Things That Need Doing Right Now into a complex squidge of pages, people to contact and panic. 

So this post - sorry! - is just about my computer's current post-it note.
Maybe a month ago,Nick Green - thank you, Nick! - mentioned a second book by Dorothea Brande. As I have always been curious about how artists and writers work, I investigated.

Brande, an American editor, was the author of "Becoming A Writer". Originally published in 1934, her first book gained extra popularity when the novelist John Braine claimed in his foreword to the 1983 edition that Brande's advice cured his writer's block. Maybe that was the moment when the whole modern genre of "writing about writing" toddled to its feet and started walking and talking?

What is the essence of this second book? Basically - in "Wake Up and Live"  - Brande suggests that whenever we think and act in negative ways, we use up too much of the energy we could be putting into our art, our writing and living. Whenever we feel low or lack confidence, we slide into a constant cycle of giving time and attention to all those things that we can't do, all the failures and frets and fears.

We worry about all we haven't done or all that others seem to be succeeding at - and this was way before Facebook and Twitter! - and end up sapping the energy that we should be spending on the work itself. The book as a whole isn't one I'd recommend, but this particular point made sense to me. 

Brande also went on to say that before going into an important interview, an awkward meeting or a scary party, people are advised to pause, present their best self and enter the room acting as if they have confidence. Yes, ACTING as they can do it.
So that's what you, the writer or artist, do. You go to your work acting as if you were the person you'd like to be, imagining you are your best version of yourself, giving your energy to the positive side of yourself.

Each morning, now the holiday laundry is done, I'm going to approach my work in progress, take a moment to push away all that sad energy-draining stuff and try imagining myself as the writer I might be.

This is how Brande puts it:  


Eight words that might help. Eight words that inspire me more than the usual daily litany of self-doubt. The words are perfect for my desk right now.

Penny Dolan

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2. Fall for a Good Storytime

You guys. It is October. ALREADY. Which means you’re probably inundated with requests for fall-themed books and storytimes. I’m here to help. There are tons of resources for Fall Storytime available on the internet, whether you’re a storytime newbie or a seasoned storytimer looking to shake things up a bit. Here are some of my favorites:


  • Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) – Animals are preparing for winter and Bear has a story to tell before he settles down to sleep.
  • The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006) – How does a squirrel get ready for winter? This could be a great STEM conversation starter!
  • Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley (Zino Press Children’s Books, 1998) – This hilarious book will get kids laughing as a tree tries its hardest to put on proper fall colors.
  • I See Fall by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by Ag Jatkowska (Picture Window Books, 2011) – Make sure you include books featuring diverse children in your fall storytimes!
  • Kitten’s Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes (Kids Can Press, 2010) – Mixed media art and simple rhyming text make this one a great one for sharing.
  • Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber, illustrated by Leslie Evans (Charlesbridge, 2004) – Rhyming text describes the different colored leaves we see on different trees in the fall.
  • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2005) – Illustrations made of fall leaves make this a great one for talking about leaves changing with older preschoolers or early elementary kids.
  • Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson (Simon & Schuster Books for Children, 2006) – Simple text makes this a winner for sharing with very young children.
  • Poppleton in Fall by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mark Teague (Blue Sky Press, 1999) – I love to read the story “The Geese” with older preschoolers and early elementary kids.
  • Pumpkins by Ken Robbins (Square Fish, 2006) – The photo illustrations make this a great nonfiction choice for adding some STEM content to your storytime. Don’t be afraid to paraphrase.
  • That Pup! by Lindsay Barrett George (Greenwillow Books, 2011) – A spunky puppy has been digging and finding treasures all over the yard – acorns!
  • Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, illustrated by Megan Lloyd (Holiday House, 1993) – After a pumpkin went SPLAT! in the garden, Rebecca Estelle has too many pumpkins!
  • We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto (Cartwheel Books, 2005) – Using the familiar cadence of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, this trio is off to find some colorful fall leaves.

(Thanks to the following awesome Twitter librarians for suggesting titles for this list: @Jbrary, @MelissaZD, @misskubelik, @pussreboots, @taletrekker)

Flannel Stories/Rhymes/Activities:

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

The Perfect Pumpkin. A felt pumpkin and a lot of black felt shapes lead to experimenting with jack-o-lantern creation. Use different shapes to create different faces – some scary, sad, or funny – and ask the kids what shapes you should use to create the perfect pumpkin!

Build a Pumpkin Patch. Pass out felt pumpkins and call kids up to put their pumpkins in the patch based on what color they’re wearing (e.g. “If you’re wearing red today, red today, red today, If you’re wearing red today, please bring up your pumpkin!”). An alternative if you have a large crowd would be to make felt pumpkins of different shapes and sizes (large, small, flat, skinny, triangular) and build a pumpkin patch together, asking for the kids’ help in describing the different shapes and colors they see.

Photo by Abby Johnson

Photo by Abby Johnson

Fall is Not Easy. The trim size of the above-mentioned book by Marty Kelley is a bit small for sharing with a big group. We’ve turned it into a felt story for hilarious fun!


Photo by Abby Johnson

Fall Leaves Felt. You can do a lot with some felt leaf shapes. We hand them out to the kids and call colors to bring up to the board. You can also talk about what colors they are, use them with the above-mentioned story We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, or use them with a “five little leaves” rhyme or song (try Five Little Leaves).

Bring in some real fall leaves to explore! You can make leaf rubbings, arrange the leaves to make pictures (a la Leaf Man), let kids sort by color or size, or put out some magnifying glasses to let kids take a closer look.


More resources!

You can find more Fall Storytime plans at the following sites:

What are your favorite readalouds and activities for Fall Storytime?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN

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3. Agent Starting Out – Building List

brent-taylor-literary-agentUwe Stender, agent and owner of TriadaUS Literary Agency, Inc. located northwest of Pittsburgh recently hired Brent Taylor who recently completed an Internship at The Bent Agency.

According to Publishers Marketplace, owner Uwe Stender has sold six books so far this year. Here is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor with a new agent, Brent Taylor (pictured on left), at a fairly new agency.

Here is what Brent says he is looking for: “My tastes are eclectic, but all of my favorite novels are similar in that they have big commercial hooks and fantastic writing. I am seeking smart, fun, and exciting books for readers of middle grade, young adult, new adult, and select mystery/crime and women’s fiction.

Middle Grade: For younger readers I am on the hunt for a humorous, intelligent fantasy; a scare-the-pants-off-me ghost or haunting story; fast-paced literary writing similar in style to Jerry Spinelli and Cynthia Lord. I have soft spots for larger-than-life characters and atmospheric setting (creepy and/or quirky).

Young Adult: I’m always looking for genre-bending books that can be an exciting puzzlement when thinking about how precisely to market; specifically mystery and crime for teens, the grittier the better; high-concept contemporary stories with addicting romantic tension. I’m a sucker for themes of finding your place in the world, new beginnings, and summer-before-college stories.

New Adult: My tastes in New Adult tend to be more darkly skewed but I would love a well-executed story that shares the same excitement, wonder, and invigoration of books like LOSING IT. Although I appreciate any story that’s told well in great language, in New Adult I’m more concerned with being entertained and gripped by the edge of my seat than in being stimulated.

Adult: I would love a psychological suspense based on actual events, i.e. CARTWHEEL by Jennifer Dubois which fictionalized the Amanda Knox trial and hooked me from beginning to end. Alternatively, I’d love high-concept women’s fiction; either an exquisitely told story huge in size and scope, or a less ambitious novel that simply warms my heart.”

How to submit:  Send your query letter and first ten pages pasted in the body of the message to brent [at] triadaus.com. Or follow him on twitter: @NaughtyBrent

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, Places to sumit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Accepting Query Letters, Agent Building List, Brent Taylor, New Agent, TriadaUS Literary Agency, Uwe Stender

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4. Autumns final day at Redwall Abbey

Autumn at Redwall Abbey

A little autumn for The Redwall fans.
When I began work on A Redwall Winters Tale, I created a series of very small thumbnail sketches immediately after my first read through. This image came directly from one of those sketches. 
I have included a jpeg of the image as it appears in the book with Brian's wonderful poem. I remember that he read that poem to me over the phone and I knew what he wanted-how he wanted the piece to feel. I think it came from a shared appreciation of this particular time of day and season.
The Thistledown troupe and stray travelers of Mossflower are making their inside the gates of Redwall Abbey where the lanterns are lit and the fires are already burning. The warmth and smell of cooking welcomes the weary travelers inside as the light slips up the mighty walls and great bell tower. 
This original art is currently available, though probably not for long, at my Etsy shop.

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5. Halloween Book Challenge

Happy HalloweenJoin Us for a Month-Long Reading Challenge!

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6. Writer Wednesday: Frequently Asked Questions Part Two

Today I have part two of my Frequently Asked Questions that you all submitted.  If you missed part one, you can read or view it here. And once again, you have the option of reading the questions and my responses or watching the video of me answering the questions.

How did you create such an engaging blog with so many followers, and how long did it take?
I love my blog and my followers. When I started it, I was interested in meeting other writers and readers like me. I’ve made a lot of great connections over the years. I also like to be very open on my blog. I embarrass myself sometimes because I’m just me, no censoring. I’m okay with that though because I want my readers to know the real me. I’d never pretend to be anyone I’m not.

I REALLY want to know how you write those 8,000 word days: is the family sequestered for the day? are you on a floating island somewhere?
I’m held hostage by a bunch of characters who won’t shut up or stop pestering me to write their story. Seriously. My characters are demanding, and they talk so fast I can barely keep up. That’s really the only way I can explain it.

If you could write anywhere, where you would you pick? The beach? A cabin in the mountains?
While I love the beach and mountain views, I wouldn’t want to write there because I’d be distracted. Give me my boring old house any day of the week. I can stay focused there and just write.

You get an incredible amount of writing done. After you fast draft or get your first draft in print, how much editing do you have to do?
It really depends on the book. Sometimes I read a draft and think it’s really not far off at all. Other times I cringe and roll my eyes at myself.

Has the editing process gotten easier over time?
I love editing. Call me weird, but I do. I think the English teacher in me just gets giddy at the thought of reworking something and making it really shine. That’s not to say that edits are easy. They can be tough, but I remind myself how it will all be worth it when I’m finished.

Does your husband read your books?
Only my picture books. He’s not a reader at all, so if it’s more than a few pages, he’s not reading it.

Which five books have moved/inspired you the most?
This list changes every once in a while when I read a great new book, but here’s what it looks like right now:
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curseby Rick Riordan
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Divergent by Veronica Roth

What is an embarrassing moment from your life? Did it help you writing? If so how?
Oh wow, I have many. Let’s see. On more than one occasion I’ve used the men’s room by accident, and of course I’ve been caught. I actually did use that for a short story that I sold, so I definitely think it helped my writing. Also, I can convey embarrassment on the page with no problem now. ;)

If you still have questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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7. The Little Devil and the Rose: Lotería Poems / El diablito y la rosa: Poemas de la lotería

By Viola Canales

ISBN: 978-1-55885-792-6
Format: Paperback

Pages: 143

In her ode to “The Umbrella,” Viola Canales remembers a family story about her mother, who every Saturday as a child “popped open her prized child’s bright umbrella / as did her little sister / and followed their mother’s adult one / from their Paloma barrio home / to downtown Main Street McAllen / walking like ducks in a row / street after street,” until one Saturday “the littlest one disappeared / inside the wilderness of Woolworth’s.” Warm-hearted recollections of family members are woven through this collection of 54 poems, in English and Spanish, which uses the images from loteríacards to pay homage to small-town, Mexican-American life along the Texas-Mexico border.
Cultural traditions permeate these verses, from the curanderaswho cure every affliction to the daily ritual of the afternoon merienda, or snack of sweet breads and hot chocolate. The community’s Catholic tradition is ever-present; holy days, customs and saints are staples of daily life. San Martín de Porres, or “El Negrito,” was her grandmother’s favorite saint, “for although she was pale too / she’d lived through the vestiges of the Mexican war / the loss of land, culture, language, and control / and it was El Negrito to whom she turned for hope” to bring enemies together.
Fond childhood memories of climbing mesquite trees and eating raspas are juxtaposed with an awareness of the disdain with which Mexican Americans are regarded. Texas museums, just like its textbooks, feature cowboy boots worn by Texas Rangers, but have no “clue or sign of the vaqueros, the original cowboys / or the Tejas, the native Indians there.” And some childhood memories aren’t so happy. In “The Hand,” she writes: “In the morning I arrived at my first grade class / knowing no English / at noon I got smacked by the teacher / for speaking Spanish outside, in the playground.”
Inspired by the archetypes found in the Mexican bingo game called lotería, these poems reflect the history—of family, culture and war—rooted in the Southwest for hundreds of years.

Viola Canales is the author of Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (Piñata Books, 2001) and The Tequila Worm (Wendy Lamb Books, 2007), winner of the Pura Belpré Award and the PEN USA Award. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, she was a captain in the U.S. Army and worked as a litigation and trial attorney. In 1994, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. Small Business Administration. She lives in Stanford, California.

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8. What I Read in September

Reader Friends, this was an absolutely abysmal reading month for me.  In fact, I had to go all the way back to June of 2013 to find a month where I read as few pages as I did this month.  I only read 9 books this month and only one in physical format.  Because analyzing my reading statistics is what I do for fun, I've determined two main causes for the reading slump I didn't even realize I was in until I counted up September's stats.

One reason I've fallen behind in reading is yoga.  I'm spending anywhere from forty-five minutes to two hours a day working out, including weekends.  I live a half hour from the gym, so that means up to three hours a day are being spent going to the gym and exercising.  It also means I'm more tired at night and can't stay awake past midnight reading when I've got a yoga class early the next morning.

I am totally fine with the impact this has had on my reading.  (FYI: I'm planning another post about yoga soon, with some information and links on how I got started, since so many people responded that they're interested).  This is the first time in my life that my exterior life, particularly the functioning and strength of my physical body, has been anywhere close to as important as my interior life.  I've spent 30 years focusing on developing my mind and personality and accepting myself on the inside, so I'm overdue for spending some time developing strength in my physical body.

However.  The other reason I've fallen behind is a bit less noble.  What happened this month is that Netflix acquired every season of Criminal Minds.  And I acquired the Netflix app on my telephone.  Addiction is not even the word for what I'm caught up in.  I watch Criminal Minds on my phone during every.spare.second.  Doing the dishes, cooking, brushing my teeth, ANYTHING that doesn't require my full attention has been done to a soundtrack of Criminal Minds.

I've devoured three and a half seasons this month and there are nine seasons total, so you can do the math.  I may have a few more slow months ahead of me before I finish.  Since I almost always eschew television for reading, I'm giving myself a pass for a while to enjoy this series for as long as it takes.

All said, I read less than usual this month (for me) but I thoroughly enjoyed almost everything I read:

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar
The Reason I Jump by Naoshi Higashida
The Good Girl by Mary Kubicka
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
One Kick by Chelsea Cain
Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong by Joyce Carol Oates
Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee
V-Wars, Volume 1 by Jonathan Maberry

What did you read this month?

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9. KIDS DESIGN - h&m

And just a few more children's designs to end with today - this time some web pics and store snaps from H&M kids. Key looks currently in store seem to be Pandas and cute animals wearing spectacles.

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10. September Reflections

In September, I read 52 books.

Board books, picture books, early readers:

  1. Max and the Won't Go To Bed Show. Mark Sperring. Illustrated by Sarah Warburton. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Red Panda's Candy Apples. Ruth Paul. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. I'm My Own Dog. David Ezra Stein. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Peppa Pig Ballet Lesson. Adapted by Elizabeth Schaefer. 2014. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. I Feel Five. Bethanie Deeney Murguia. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Go To Sleep, Little Farm. Mary Lyn Ray. Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. The Scarecrows' Wedding. Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. The Loch Mess Monster. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  9. Big Bad Bubble. Adam Rubin. Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]       
  10. Poppy the Pirate Dog's New Shipmate. Liz Kessler. Illustrated by Mike Phillips. 2014. Candlewick. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11. Tony Baloney Buddy Trouble. Pam Munoz Ryan. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Biggety Bat: Hot Diggety, It's Biggety! Ann Ingalls. Illustrated by Aaron Zenz. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  13. Cinderella in the City. (Level 2) (Flash Forward Fairy Tales) Cari Meister. Illustrated by Erica-Jane Waters. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. Snow White and the Seven Dogs. (Level 2) (Flash Forward Tales) Cari Meister. Illustrated by Erica-Jane Waters. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  15. Monkey and Elephant Go Gadding. Carole Lexa Schaefer. Illustrated by Galia Bernstein. 2014. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  16. Racing the Waves (Tales of the Time Dragon #2) Robert Neubecker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  17. Steve & Wessley in The Sea Monster. (Level 1) J.E. Morris. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Review copy]    
Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Goodnight, Mr. Tom. Michelle Magorian. 1981. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Everything on a Waffle. Polly Horvath. 2001/2008. Square Fish. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. One Year in Coal Harbor. Polly Horvath. 2012. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Emperors of the Ice. Richard Farr. 2008. FSG. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1937.  320 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. Wednesdays in the Tower. Jessica Day George. 2013. Bloomsbury. 240 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. Mythmaker: The Life of J.R.R. Tolkien. Anne E. Neimark. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. I Kill the Mockingbird. Paul Acampora. 2014. Roaring Book Press. 176 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Love by the Morning Star. Laura L. Sullivan. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  11. Get Into Art: Animals. Susie Brooks. 2013. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Get Into Art: People. Susie Brooks. 2013. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. No Name. Wilkie Collins. 1862/1998. Oxford University Press. 748 pages.
  3. Northanger Abbey. Jane Austen. 1817/1992. Everyman's Library. 288 pages. [Source: Book I Own] 
  4. Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 495 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. The Singing Sands. Josephine Tey. 1952. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. In Search of England. H.V. Morton. 1927/2007. Da Capo Press. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. The Boleyn King. Laura Andersen. 2013. Ballantine. 358 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. The Attenbury Emeralds. Jill Paton Walsh. 2010/2011. St. Martin's Press. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. The Late Scholar. Jill Paton Walsh. 2014. St. Martin's Press. 368 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. My Cousin Rachel. Daphne du Maurier. 1951. 374 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. Death of a Schoolgirl (Jane Eyre Chronicles #1) Joanna Campbell Slan. 2012. Berkley Trade. 340 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. The Lost. Sarah Beth Durst. 2014. Harlequin. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  13. The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten. Harrison Geillor. 2011. Night Shade Books. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Christian fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Unbroken. Laura Hillenbrand. 2010. Random House. 473 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Bible Study Handbook. Lindsay Olesberg. 2012. IVP. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Edwards on the Christian Life. Dane C. Ortlund. 2014. Crossway. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Love's Fortune. Laura Frantz. 2014. Revell. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5.  The Names of Jesus. Warren W. Wiersbe. 1997. Baker Publishing. 159 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  6. One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. Tullian Tchividjian. 2013. David Cook. 240 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. Fair Play (It Happened At the Fair #2) Deeanne Gist. 2014. Howard Books 433 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. The Savior of the World. Benjamin B. Warfield. 1991. Banner of Truth. 270 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  9. The Early Readers Bible: New Testament. V. Gilbert Beers. Illustrated by Terri Steiger. Zonderkidz. 256 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  10. The 30 Day Praise Challenge. Becky Harling. 2013. David Cook. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Samar Yazbek Q & A

       At Qantara.de Claudia Kramatschek has a Q & A with Syrian author Samar Yazbek, Divided society, divided souls.
       The book they discuss, which has just come out in German, is available in English as Cinnamon; see the RAYA information page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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12. Its Fall-time for Oliver.

I've stretched out the summer to the last warm beach day but alas...its Fall. I do actually enjoy the season and had a chance to indulge my love for this time of year in New England a few years ago while illustrating Oliver Finds his Way by Phyllis Root. The board book is still available at your favorite independent bookstore. Visit my site, http://www.christopherdenise.com, for quick links to purchase past titles.

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13. Check Out Rio's Playlist! {ATLANTIA by Ally Condie} #AtlantiaAbove

Hello my lovelies! I hope you're ready for a treat! Today, as part of the ATLANTIA blog tour, we have the amazing Ally Condie with us to talk about her new heroine, Rio! Rio has been trapped below the sea, in the underwater world of Atlantia for her entire life. Now all she wants is to go Above, to see the sky and feel the sun. Although living under the sea sounds fun at first, I think

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14. BOOK - merrilee liddiard

I spotted on the fabulous Mer Mag blog - created by Merilee Liddiard, that she has released a new book based on her wonderful  kids design projects. Called 'Playful' it will feature lots of Merilee's ideas for things to make for children to play with. Largely made from cardboard, duck tape and paint there is sure to be something inspirational for everyone on her website and in the new Playful

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15. Adorable Tot Used for Photo-Illustrations for First Bedbug Book

This picture from one of our illustrators was too cute not to shar She Kept Bedbug From "Sleeping Tight"  Child That Appeared in Book I This precious little scamp was a couple of years older when she was used as a subject for the photo-illustrations for the first Bedbug book. But she was so cute in this photo, that I just had to share. I think you'll agree, she was the perfect child to

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16. KIDS DESIGN - primark

Our next post today features a different aspect of kids design from Merrilee's with these prints and placements snapped in Primark. These owls on scarves really stood out to me as great mix of an old fave (the owl motif) mixed with the latest trend for tribal style.

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17. Doge.


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18. My tweets

  • Wed, 00:57: A singer on #thevoice just said, "I was the best pepper shaker that I could be." Some day, I shall be a pepper shaker. Just so I say that.
  • Wed, 01:44: I don't care who it is that's doing the hating, the labeling, the hurting; I want them to stop the hating, the labeling, the hurting.

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19. Falling Leaves

The breezes blow, the leaves drift down
And settle on the grass.
Before we blink an eye, we know
This, too, shall come to pass.

For soon the trees will all be bare
As winter makes its mark.
We'll wake and have our evening meal
Both when it's nearly dark.

The icicles will form and drip;
We'll watch them while indoors
And jackets made of down or wool
Will fill the racks in stores.

But wait! I've jumped the gun a bit,
For leaves still mostly cling
As I await the changes
That the autumn winds will bring.

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20. Streaming Gilmore Girls

       Apparently it's big news that Netflix will be streaming the TV show Gilmore Girls starting today. As someone who does not use/have Netflix I don't really know what this actually means, but I've been impressed/amused by the copious amounts of Gilmore Girls-coverage that has popped online up surrounding this.
       For additional background reading, note that two show-related titles (aside from many of the books Rory reads ...) are under review at the complete review:

       (Yes, I enjoyed the show -- sharp writing, a great sense for dialogue, and by and large good fun --, and if I had Netflix would probably take advantage of the easy availability and dip back in.)

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21. Aaron Blabey’s Lessons With a Twist

Aaron Blabey is an actor-turned children’s author and illustrator, having great success with award-winning books including Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley, The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon, and Pig the Pug, which is becoming one of Australia’s best selling picture books. Fortunate to have Sunday Chutney as the chosen book to be read in schools […]

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22. Forward Prizes for Poetry

       They've announced (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) the winners of the Forward Prizes for Poetry, with Kei Miller's The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion taking the £10,000 best collection prize; see the Carcanet publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
       Stephen Santus' 'In a Restaurant' -- third-place finisher in last year's Bridport Prize -- took the prize for 'best single poem'.

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23. Time Management Tuesday: Be More Discriminating About Reading

What I Learned On My September Vacation

When I got my own personal laptop and was no longer sharing computers with family members, I became very excited over bookmarking sites. I bookmarked a lot of them. I classified them. I stockpiled the things and fantasized about reading them. I looked forward to reading them on this vacation I just took.

I did read a great many of them. And what I found was that in many cases I didn't need to have bothered. A lot of these things were repeats of information I'd already seen elsewhere. There is only so much information out there on writing and marketing, but there are a lot of blogs and websites with writers who have just discovered this stuff and think it is newsworthy.

How much time could I save myself by being a lot more discriminating about my reading material? Well, I decided, let's see.

Personal Precedent For Creating More Time By Cutting Reading

Quite honestly, I've been cutting reading for years.
  • Giving up. Yes, yes, I used to be one of those readers who had to finish any book she started. It was an obsession or some kind of moral code. When did things change? I don't know. Maybe around the time I started hearing stories about a million books being published every year. (I don't know if that's actually true, by the way.) Which may have coincided with me reading one too many bad books. Which may have been around the time I realized life is short. I should be fussier about how I spend my time.
  • Skimming. I also skim books, particularly those that have some significance in my field but I just don't like. Skimming definitely lets you hit the high points in a work, get a feeling for its world, and just find out what happens. "That's a skimmer," is a phrase I often use, but only to myself. (Did I just write that out loud?)
  • I gave up reading listicles a year or two ago. There's something I've never missed. Seriously, ever seen a listicle called "The Top 10 Cures For Cancer" or "5 Ways To Find God?" Okay, you probably have. In which case, you know what I mean.

How Can I Cut More?

  • Impose Limitations. Some time management specialists suggest making to-do lists on post-it notes in order to force yourself to be reasonable about what you can do in a day. I'm going to try limiting myself to just three to five bookmarks in any category. I want to add a new one? I have to take one off, either by reading the thing or just dropping it.
  • Give Them A Chance To Make Their Case. To make the bookmark list, a post will have to meet a two-paragraph test. It has to prove to me in that time that it has material new to me or compelling in some new way.
  • Size Matters. Personally, I believe the Internet is different. Material written for it should be concise. Otherwise, it should be in The New Yorker. Over the years, I've moved away from blogs that regularly ran long. I'm not saying I'll never read a magazine article on-line, but if I do, it won't be a random act.
  • If You Haven't Read It In A Year... Ever hear that advice about getting rid of clothes you haven't worn in a year? Yeah, I could do that with bookmarks.

Seriously, How Much Time Do You Expect To Gain With This, Gail?

Hmm. Maybe not that much. But I won't have a long list of bookmarked sites hanging over my head, which can only be a good thing.

0 Comments on Time Management Tuesday: Be More Discriminating About Reading as of 9/30/2014 11:03:00 PM
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24. Francesco Muzzi

Francesco Muzzi on grainedit.com


Brilliant work from Italian designer and illustrator Francesco Muzzi.


Francesco Muzzi on grainedit.com

Francesco Muzzi on grainedit.com

Francesco Muzzi on grainedit.com

Francesco Muzzi on grainedit.com



Also worth viewing:

NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual
Tom haugomat

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Thanks to this week's Sponsor // RetroSupply Co.: A library of vintage inspired design resources for Photoshop and Illustrator.

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25. Book Review: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott

From Goodreads:
Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.

Using a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous years of the war. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.
 History isn't always my go-to in terms of non-fiction.  I'm much more likely to pick up something science, medical, psychological, or sociological than I am to pick up a strict history text.  That said, something about this one just called out to me and I am so very glad it did.  It's certainly one of the best non-fiction works I've read this year and I'd venture to guess that it'll wind up on my top ten overall list for the year.  It's just brilliantly done.

I was hooked form the author's opening note, before the book even begins.  She makes a point to tell us that the book contains "no invented dialogue.  Anything that appears between quotations comes from a book, diary, letter, archival note, transcript, or...from stories passed down by her descendants."

One of my biggest problems with historical non-fiction, particularly works that purport to read like popular fiction, is that the author embellishes, intentionally or unintentionally, and that the facts take second place to the story.  This is certainly not a problem for Abbott.  Her research is intensive - there are almost fifty pages of notes at the end and a complete bibliography over ten pages long.  There is not a single bone to pick in terms of research, accuracy, and attention to nuanced details.  Abbott clearly did her research and let that guide the book.

Entertainment Value
In addition to what I've said above regarding the attention to historical detail and the intensity of research, I could not put this book down.  The four women profiled are absolutely fascinating.  Abbott had no need to deviate from historical fact because the facts are just so very compelling.  The lives of these women are extraordinary.  I can't even begin to start telling you how intriguing and compelling their stories are, and Abbott tells them in a way that reads like a narrative, while staying true to her research.  I'm so impressed with the way she was able to avoid creating any dialogue outside of historical record, but the book still manages to read like something straight out of fiction.

I've already recommended this to the Nesties as a group and to individuals who I think will enjoy it, and it's one that I'll be pushing hard whenever anyone asks me for a non-fiction recommendation this fall.  It's just remarkably well done.  I think it will appeal not only to history buffs, but also to those who enjoy historical fiction and biography.  And of course, it would be a great choice for anyone with a particular interest in the Civil War.  We're only looking at three months till Christmas, and I think this is an excellent option for gift-giving.

Thanks to TLC for having me on the tour.  Click here to see the full list of bloggers participating.

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