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1. Call for Poetry Submissions: Really System

Really System, the journal of poetry and extensible poetics, will publish its fourth issue in Fall 2014. We are looking for vibrant poems inflected by our shared technocultural moment and the ways it envelops us, fascinates us, dances with us, ignores us, and fails us.

Submission deadline is September 1, 2014. Details and submission guidelines are available at our website.

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2. Call for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction: Burrow Press Review

Submissions accepted year-round.

Burrow Press Review features one new work of fiction or creative nonfiction on its homepage each week. We publish a wide range of established and emerging writers. Send us your best literary fiction and/or creative nonfiction. Flash fiction and experimental pieces are also welcome. 5,000 words max. 

Visit our website for more information.

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3. Endre Berentzen

Endre Berentzen on grainedit.com

Bergen International Festival (Festspillene i Bergen) presents art in all its guises from music to theatre, dance, opera and visual art. Established in 1953, the festival is one of the oldest and the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries, with more than 220 events during the 15 days it lasts. Working alongside his team, Endre Berentzen devised a visual identity for the event that is well-polished and visually stunning. Using a square as the starting point for a rhythmic pattern, they developed a solution that embodies the diversity of the audience and the music at the festival.

 

Endre Berentzen on grainedit.com

 

Endre Berentzen on grainedit.com

 

Endre Berentzen on grainedit.com

 

Endre Berentzen on grainedit.com

 

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Also worth viewing:

Duane Dalton: Album Anatomy
Socio Design
Ben Roth

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Thanks to this week's Sponsor // Tesla Themes - Insanely customizable and mobile-friendly, thanks to their responsive design!






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4. Prints, Plus Pokey

 
A new pattern I painted last week, inspired by the tangle of vegetation outside. Summer, you done good.
   
Other A+ summer highlights: seeing Pokey LaFarge live. Because it's not everyday you get to see a band that sports fedoras and ties while bringing down the house.

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5. Call for Cover Art: The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2014

Online deadline: September 12, 2014

Please send us your best work to be considered for the cover of The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2014. Make sure you have the art/photograph available in 300 dpi, and at least 2000 pixels wide. You may submit 10 pieces. Payment of accepted piece: 50€. All rights to the work will remain with you.

Go here for details.

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6. Personal Injury Attorney Baton Rouge

Have you been involved in an auto accident in the Baton Rouge area? If so, the driver responsible for the accident should handle all of your car repair and medical bills. Of course, this doesn’t always happen, and should you find yourself out of work because of injuries sustained during the accident, you probably are also struggling to make ends meet. At Erik Burns Law, the professional and experienced law firm can help represent you and make sure you receive proper compensation. From the physical damage done to your car and the medical damage your body sustained, all the way to lost wages and money for pain and suffering, Erik Burns Law is there for you. There is no reason you should be treated like a second class citizen simply because someone else caused a traffic accident.

 

http://www.erikburnslaw.com/

The post Personal Injury Attorney Baton Rouge appeared first on Jessabella Reads.

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7. New Website Address for Danette Haworth!

Hello all!

Somehow, my dot com domain name got swiped a few weeks ago. I'm trying to get the dot com address back, but now Danette Haworth is dot net website!

Yay! I'm back online!

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8. ‘Marilyn Myller’ by Mikey Please

Marilyn maketh, Marilyn taketh awayth. Marilyn is trying really hard to create something good. For once, her expectation and reality are going to align. It will be epic. It will be tear-jerkingly profound. It will be perfect. Nothing can go wrong.

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9. The Empathy Exams

What a marvelous book is The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. A collection of essays published by the local Graywolf Press, it actually spent time a little time on the bestseller lists. Now having read it I understand why. It is a beautiful and thoughtful book that examines empathy from a variety of angles and in some surprising places.

The first essay, “The Empathy Exams,” sets the tone. Jamison is working as an actor, playing patient for medical students who are being scored on not only how well they diagnose and treat a problem but on how well they treat the patient. Do they show empathy?

empathy isn’t just measured by checklist item 31 — voiced empathy for my situation/problem — but by every item that gauges how thoroughly me experience has been imagined. Empathy isn’t just remembering to say that must really be hard — it’s figuring out how to bring difficulty into the light so it can be seen at all. Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing. Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see.

Between her experience as an actor for med student exams, Jamison weaves a story of her own medical problems, when she had an abortion and then heart surgery not long after. She has difficulty getting what she needs, getting any sense of empathy or caring from her own doctors; they don’t want to deal with her guilt or her tears and are dismissive of her fear. As a result, she demands so much from her boyfriend that he can’t deliver what she wants either:

I needed something from the world I didn’t know how to ask for. I needed people — Dave, a doctor, anyone — to deliver my feelings back to me in a form that was legible. Which is a superlative kind of empathy to seek, or to supply: an empathy that rearticulates more clearly what it is shown.

In the essay “Devil’s Bait” she attends a Morgellons Disease conference in Austin, Texas. People with this disease, seventy percent of whom are women, believe they have crawling, biting things under their skin as well as fibers growing through their skin. They end up picking at the “fibers” and scratching and itching themselves so much they cause very real sores that are sometimes so bad they become disfiguring. It is a delusional disease currently not recognized my the medical community. When treatment is given, it is generally an antipsychotic drug which many of the patients end up not taking because they reject their doctor’s diagnosis of delusional parasitosis. The question then becomes, one of “what kinds of reality are considered prerequisites for compassion”? Jamison wonders

is it wrong to call it empathy when you trust the fact of suffering but not the source? How do I inhabit someone’s pain without inhabiting their particular understanding of that pain?

She finds herself wishing she could

invent a verb tense full of open spaces — a tense that didn’t pretend to understand the precise mechanisms of which it spoke; a tense that could admit its own limits.

Jamison’s wide-ranging essays take us from a writer’s conference in Tijuana, Mexico, to Nicaragua when she was teaching kids and got punched in the face while walking down the street. The man took her wallet and broke her nose. We visit the silver mines of Potosí in Bolivia where the miners are doomed to be dead by the age of forty either from a mine accident or silicosis. It is big business for tourists to go to the mines and go down into them to see the miners are work. You are to bring gifts for the miners: sodas, sticks of dynamite, small bags of cocoa leaves. The gifts help you feel better when you get to leave and breathe fresh air again, knowing the men you just met will be underground for another five hours or more.

She goes on a guided tour of South Central Los Angeles and Watts. Run by former gang members the tour fee goes to help pay for the conflict mediation work they are also doing. As they drive around on an air conditioned bus, protected from the outside and being regaled with stories of gang violence, one of the guides talks of Rodney King and his beating by police. Jamison was only nine at the time and she remembers thinking that the police only would have hit him if he had done something wrong. The truth is far more difficult than that of course. So what good is taking such a tour?

The great shame of your privilege is a hot blush the whole time. The truth of this place is infinite and irreducible, and self-reflexive anguish might feel like the only thing you can offer in return. It might be hard to hear anything above the clattering machinery of your guilt. Try to listen anyway.

There is a wonderful essay on sentimentality and melodrama that tries to pinpoint just why we despise it so much yet desire it at the same time. And another in which she writes about three men who were wrongfully convicted as teens for murder and spent eighteen years in jail.

The book’s concluding essay, “Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain” made me want to cry and cheer at the same time. Cry because a 2001 study revealed that women are less likely than men to be given pain medication. Instead, women are given sedatives. The essay discusses through literature and culture and personal experience the ways in which female pain is fetishized or dismissed. These days women are “post-wounded.” Instead of becoming an angel in our suffering we are supposed to pretend we aren’t suffering at all. But, Jamison asks,

How do we represent female pain without producing a culture in which this pain has been fetishized to the point of fantasy or imperative? Fetishize: to be excessively or irrationally devoted to. Here is the danger of our wounded womanhood: that its invocation will corroborate a pain cult that keeps legitimating, almost legislating, more of itself.

Jamison doesn’t come to any definite conclusion on how female pain might be represented, but she is certain that is should never be dismissed even at the risk of its being fetishized:

The wounded woman gets called a stereotype and sometimes she is. But sometimes she’s just true. I think the possibility of fetishizing pain is no reason to stop representing it. Pain that gets performed is still pain. Pain turned trite is still pain. I think the charges of cliché and performance offer our closed hearts too many alibis, and I want our hearts to be open. I just wrote that. I want our hearts to be open. I mean it.

Empathy of course is the solution. An open heart allows one to be empathetic to the suffering of others whether their pain comes from a delusional disease or a source that cannot be pinned down, or from getting punched in the nose. As she says in an early essay in the book, empathy isn’t just something that happens to us it is also something we choose:

to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, the dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I am deep in my own

A beautiful book guaranteed to make you think. I highly recommend it.


Filed under: Books, Essays, Nonfiction, Reviews

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10. War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America

9780226143354

On the one-hundredth anniversary of World War I, it might be especially opportune to consider one of the unspoken inheritances of global warfare: soldiers who return home physically and/or psychologically wounded from battle. With that in mind, this excerpt from War’s Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America contextualizes the relationship between rehabilitation—as the proper social and cultural response to those injured in battle—and the progressive reformers who pushed for it as a means to “rebuild” the disabled and regenerate the American medical industry.

***

Rehabilitation was thus a way to restore social order after the chaos of war by (re)making men into producers of capital. Since wage earning often defined manhood, rehabilitation was, in essence, a process of making a man manly. Or, as the World War I “Creed of the Disabled Man” put it, the point of rehabilitation was for each disabled veteran to become “a MAN among MEN in spite of his physical handicap.” Relying on the breadwinner ideal of manhood, those in favor of pension reform began to define disability not by a man’s missing limbs or by any other physical incapacity (as the Civil War pension system had done), but rather by his will (or lack thereof) to work. Seen this way, economic dependency—often linked overtly and metaphorically to womanliness—came to be understood as the real handicap that thwarted the full physical recovery of the veteran and the fiscal strength of the nation.

Much of what Progressive reformers knew about rehabilitation they learned from Europe. This was a time, as historian Daniel T. Rodgers tells us, when “American politics was peculiarly open to foreign models and imported ideas. Germany, France, and Great Britain first introduced rehabilitation as a way to cope, economically, morally, and militarily, with the face that millions of men had been lost to the war. Both the Allied and Central Powers instituted rehabilitation programs so that injured soldiers could be reused on the front lines and in munitions in order to meet the military and industrial demands of a totalizing war. Eventually other belligerent nations—Australia, Canada, India, and the United States—adopted programs in rehabilitation, too, in order to help their own war injured recover. Although these countries engaged in a transnational exchange of knowledge, each nation brought its own particular prewar history and culture to bear on the meaning and construction of rehabilitation. Going into the Great War, the United States was known to have the most generous veterans pension system worldwide. This fact alone makes the story of the rise of rehabilitation in the United States unique.

To make rehabilitation a reality, Woodrow Wilson appointed two internationally known and informed Progressive reformers, Judge Julian Mack and Julia Lathrop, to draw up the necessary legislation. Both Chicagoans, Mack and Lathrop moved in the same social and professional circles, networks dictated by the effort to bring about reform at the state and federal level. In July 1917, Wilson tapped Mack to help “work out a new program for compensation and aid  . . . to soldiers,” one that would be “an improvement upon the traditional [Civil War] pension system.” With the help of Lathrop and Samuel Gompers, Mack drafted a complex piece of legislation that replaced the veteran pension system with government life insurance and a provision for the “rehabilitation and re-education of all disabled soldiers.” The War Risk Insurance Act, as it became known, passed Congress on October 6, 1917, without a dissenting vote.

Although rehabilitation had become law, the practicalities of how, where, and by whom it should be administered remained in question. Who should take control of the endeavor? Civilian or military leaders? Moreover, what kind of professionals should be in charge? Educators, social workers, or medical professionals? Neither Mack nor Lathrop considered the hospital to be the obvious choice. The Veterans Administration did not exist in 1917. Nor did its system of hospitals. Even in the civilian sector at the time, very few hospitals engaged in rehabilitative medicine as we have come to know it today. Put simply, the infrastructure and personnel to rehabilitate an army of injured soldiers did not exist at the time that America entered the First World War. Before the Great War, caring for maimed soldiers was largely a private matter, a community matter, a family matter, handled mostly by sisters, mothers, wives, and private charity groups.

The Army Medical Department stepped in quickly to fill the legislative requirements for rehabilitation. Within months of Wilson’s declaration of war, Army Surgeon General William C. Gorgas created the Division of Special Hospitals and Physical Reconstruction, putting a group of Boston-area orthopedic surgeons in charge. Gorgas turned to orthopedic surgeons for two reasons. First, a few of them had already begun experimenting with work and rehabilitation therapy in a handful of the nation’s children’s hospitals. Second, and more important, several orthopedists had already been involved in the rehabilitation effort abroad, assisting their colleagues in Great Britain long before the United States officially became involved in the war.

Dramatic changes took place in the Army Medical Department to accommodate the demand for rehabilitation. Because virtually every type of war wound had become defined as a disability, the Medical Department expanded to include a wide array of medical specialties. Psychiatrists, neurologists, and psychologists oversaw the rehabilitation of soldiers with neurasthenia and the newly designated diagnosis of shell shock. Ophthalmologists took charge of controlling the spread of trachoma and of providing rehabilitative care to soldiers blinded by mortar shells and poison gas. Tuberculosis specialists supervised the reconstruction of men who had acquired the tubercle bacillus during the war. And orthopedists managed fractures, amputations, and all other musculoskeletal injuries.

Rehabilitation legislation also led to the formation of entirely new, female-dominated medical subspecialties, such as occupational and physical therapy. The driving assumption behind rehabilitation was that disabled men needed to be toughened up, lest they become dependent of the state, their communities, and their families. The newly minted physical therapists engaged in this hardening process with zeal, convincing their male commanding officers that women caregivers could be forceful enough to manage, rehabilitate, and make an army of ostensibly emasculated men manly again. To that end, wartime physical therapists directed their amputee patients in “stump pounding” drills, having men with newly amputated legs walk on, thump, and pound their residual limbs. When not acting as drill sergeants, the physical therapists engaged in the arduous task of stretching and massaging limbs and backs, but only if such manual treatment elicited a degree of pain. These women adhered strictly to the “no pain, no gain” philosophy of physical training. To administer a light touch, “feel good” massage would have endangered their professional reputation (they might have been mistaken for prostitutes) while also undermining the process of remasculinization. Male rehabilitation proponents constantly reminded female physical therapists that they needed to deny their innate mothering and nurturing tendencies, for disabled soldiers required a heavy hand, not coddling.

The expansion of new medical personnel devoted to the long-term care of disabled soldiers created an unprecedented demand for hospital space. Soon after the rehabilitation legislation passed in Congress, the US Army Corps of Engineers erected hundreds of patient wards as well as entirely novel treatment areas such as massage rooms, hydrotherapy units, and electrotherapy quarters. Orthopedic appliance shops and “limb laboratories,” where physicians and staff mechanics engineered and repaired prosthetic limbs, also became a regular part of the new rehabilitation hospitals. Less than a year into the war, Walter Reed Hospital, in Washington, DC, emerged as the leading US medical facility for rehabilitation and prosthetic limb innovation, a reputation the facility still enjoys today.

The most awe-inspiring spaces of the new military rehabilitation hospitals were the “curative workshops,” wards that looked more like industrial workplaces than medical clinics. In these hospital workshops, disabled soldiers repaired automobiles, painted signs, operated telegraphs, and engaged in woodworking, all under the oversight of medical professionals who insisted that rehabilitation was at once industrial training and therapeutic agent. Although built in a time of war, a majority of these hospital facilities and personnel became a permanent part of veteran care in both army general hospitals and in the eventual Veterans Administration hospitals for the remainder of the twentieth century. Taking its cue from the military, the post–World War I civilian hospital began to construct and incorporate rehabilitation units into its system of care as well. Rehabilitation was born as a Progressive Era ideal, took shape as a military medical specialty, and eventually became a societal norm in the civilian sector.

To read more about War’s Waste, click here.

 

 

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11. Flash Fiction Competition: Gemini Magazine

Knock us out in 1,000 words or less! Grand prize: $1,000. Second place: $100. Four honorable mentions: $25 each. Low entry fee of $4 ($3 for each additional entry). 

Names are removed from all entries before reading so everyone gets an equal chance. Any subject, style or genre. Simply send your best, most powerful, unpublished work by email or snail mail. All six finalists will be published online in the October 2014 issue of Gemini. Both new and experienced writers have won our contests.

Deadline: September 2, 2014 

Maximum Length: 1000 words

For more information and to enter, please visit our website.

 

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12. SDCC ’14: ‘DC Comics – The Weeklies’ panel

BMETRL_Cv26By Kyle Pinion

One of the bigger initiatives to come from the Big Two this year is the advent of the three weekly titles from DC Comics: Batman Eternal, Futures End, and Earth 2: Worlds End. With the latter on the verge of release, and Batman Eternal continuing to perform well in DC Sales Figures, members of the various creative teams for the titles gathered for DC’s Weeklies panel. Writers on hand included: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins (Batman Eternal), Dan Jurgens, Jeff Lemire (Futures End), Marguerite Bennett and Daniel H. Wilson (Worlds End).

The panel, moderated by Bob Wayne, was neatly delineated with each title receiving its own focus time. With that, things were kicked off with Batman Eternal.

- Scott Snyder thanked the attendees for picking up Eternal and making it such a sales success: “We came up with an idea that we felt would be so big and infect that neighborhood in Gotham. I helped write the first few and I’ll come back and do the last, but it’s these guys that are just killing it on the series. The great thing about it is that it’s not happening in a small corner.” Snyder also stated that when Batman returns in Issue 34, it will deal with the fall-out of Eternal, flashing forward past the Weekly time-frame, with the consequences of the series reverberating through a number of books.

- Fawkes discussed the breakdown of writer tasks and interests within their team, stating that he specifically will be writing the sub-plot dealing with Jim Corrigan and Batwing through the duration of the series. Higgins also chimed in, mentioning that despite coming onto the series late (replacing outgoing writer John Layman), his arc would begin in the 30′s and he would be bringing back The Architect in those issues (a character he co-created with Snyder in the Pre-New 52 Gates of Gotham mini).

- In describing the break-down of the series’ acts Higgins added: “The way that we’re structuring this is three acts. The end of the first big act of the series will be right around issue 20. Section two tees up something new and different with different characters. That’s the stuff I’m doing; I’m working with Jason Fabok to tell the end of section two.” Snyder added in that each of the acts are designed to raise the stakes until the city is on the edge of destruction while reaching a giant crescendo in its finale.

- Moving on to Future’s End, the panelists were a little less verbose regarding future plans, with a big as of yet unannounced event on the horizon, but they discussed the dynamics of the “incredibly unlikely group of writers” that make up their team. With Lemire pointing out that the unusual mix of writers gave way to the eclectic cast that makes up the title’s roster.

- Jurgens and Lemire were especially quick to praise Ryan Sook as the unsung fifth member of their team, who sat in on their writing meetings and created character sketches based on the ideas being bounced around.

- Regarding writer specific favorites, Lemire mentioned that it was Brian Azzarello who was gravitating towards Terry McGinnis, and this in turn led to a discussion amongst the panelists as to whether Terry is called Batman or Batman Beyond in the book proper. (A: He’s not called anything as of yet, as he has few associates per Lemire).

- Lastly, the panel’s focus turned to Earth 2: Worlds End, with “show-runner” Wilson describing the series as: “We’re in a situation where we’re continuing what’s going on in Earth 2 and there are some catastrophic events on the way and we’re bridging into the future. On the ground level, we have characters like Dick Grayson who are surviving on the ground, then you bump up a bit and you have the World Army, then, to the top level. Having all of this play out at the same time is really interesting; figuring out who deals with what and what’s happening to the world.”

- Both Bennett and Wilson agreed that the series will be shifting its gaze less to the big picture and more to the people within it, with Bennett specifically citing Batman Eternal as a huge influence on her work here: “It’s not just a story of attrition or the death of the world, it’s a story about the people in that world. It’s a story of triumph, of love and hope that’s coming out of the ruins.”

- Both writers also wanted to stress the importance of the series having a sense of accessibility, and the first issue will provide an intro as to the happenings within the Earth 2 monthly title.

- Lastly, Wilson mentioned that readers should be on the look-out for them to address some unanswered questions, particularly in regards to the fate of Sam, Alan Scott’s partner.

- The panel then moved into the Q&A portion, which begun with an elaboration on who is tackling what character in Futures End; Lemire is writing Frankenstein and any space characters, Giffen has the Cadmus team and Grifter, Jurgens is writing Tim Drake and Superman, and Azzarello oversees Terry McGuiness.

- Regarding any restrictions on ideas that the Eternal crew might have proposed, they said there weren’t any, and that in issue 20 the status quo will shift tremendously. With Tynion adding in: “We’re marching closer and closer to the end with every single issue, and issues #21-23 is the real turning point to set up that next section and things are going to start changing rapidly. Gotham is going to become very dangerous very quickly.” Fawkes also added that characters like Killer Croc, Jim Gordon, and Batwing will come out of the events of Eternal with new lives.

- On what the writers of Eternal would remember from the series as a whole: Snyder answered that the title is key theme. With Fawkes emphasizing this point, stating that the team wanted readers to believe this is the story that would destroy Batman, but once they reach the conclusion they’ll get the meaning of the title in that context.

- Snyder closed the panel stating that the coordinated work amongst the writers on Eternal affected the narrative of his upcoming Batman arc “Endgame”: “When I seehow much they’re doing, it was like, ‘Let’s make Batman do that too.’ ‘Endgame’ is about taking Batman and giving readers a Gotham they’ve never seen before.

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13. The Beat Podcasts! – SDCC ’14 Day 5: Chuck Palahnuik

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngLive from San Diego Comic Con, it’s More To Come! Publishers Weekly’s podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In part five of More To Come’s San Diego Comic-Con special podcast, Calvin Reid interviews award-winning author Chuck Palahnuik about his decision to write the sequel to his hit ‘Fight Club’ in comic book form, and the comics professionals who helped it happen. This has been San Diego Comic-Con 2014 from Publishers Weekly’s More To Come!

Download this episode direct here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the Publishers Weekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

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14. Writing On the Rails: Survival Tips for Traveling Authors

murderorientexpressAfter years of crisscrossing the country by car, plane, train, bus, and even on foot for stretches, one of my favorite modes of transportation remains the railroad. Yes, it can be a little shabby, but not nearly as bad as some bus stations I’ve seen. Plus, it has a great literary history: Jack Kerouac and his Beat buddy Neal Cassady were both railroad employees, and numerous works taking place on the rails continue to thrill us, such as Christie’s Murder on The Orient Express, Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar, and Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hunter S. Thompson once amusingly wrote, “Many fine books have been written in prison,” and I believe that many fine books, stories, poems, and articles have been written on the gently rocking cars of the railway. I’ve enjoyed some excellent writing sessions during my railway jaunts from New York City to destinations far and wide (mostly New England, but I’ve traveled as far as Texas by train), and I’ve picked up a few pointers that might make your own writing-on-the-rails experience a little more enjoyable. Some of these are common sense tips, but hopefully you find one or two items below that help make your trip more productive.

Have a “Bug-Out Bag”

Like most travelers, I stow my non-essential luggage overhead or leave it in the good hands of the porter (if there is one) and I keep my writerly items nearby in my “Bug-Out Bag”: a laptop with power cable, notepad, pens, a couple of books, iPod, phone, phone charger, and any research materials (if needed). I’ll talk food/drinks later, but these are the basics if you’re going to be traveling for more than an hour or two. If you bring just a laptop, you may find yourself in a romper-room of a train unable to concentrate, or if you bring just a book and notepad, you may find yourself in a nice quiet car with all the time in the world to tinker with your novel. Be prepared and bring enough tools and entertainment for any situation.

I try to keep this bag as small and light as possible because it’s going to take up lap or foot space when you’re sitting for hours on end, and it’s going to be the thing you grab first if you need to get off the train in an emergency. Yes, I know they say leave everything behind, but I assure you, I’m not the only writer who would fight flame, flood, war, and famine to rescue an unfinished manuscript.

And make sure your phone and laptop are charged up because not all trains have power outlets. I primarily ride NYC’s Metro-North railway and Amtrak, the former lacking outlets in every seat, the latter having them only by the window seat. Which leads me to…

Seat Selection

When selecting a seat, be aware of where the sun will fall as you travel. Example: If you’re heading due north in the morning, you might want to sit on the left side of the train to avoid the glaring morning light coming through the right side. Traveling due west? Sit on the right side to avoid the southern sun as much as possible. Almost no trains I’ve used in my 34 years have had curtains or draw-down shades like an airplane, so be prepared for sunlight.

As for where on a car to sit…I’d suggest avoiding the bathroom, for obvious reasons.

I always aim for the window seat, and I pick this seat for very specific reasons. The aforementioned power outlet location is one. Nothing is more awkward than having to reach over or around someone to plug in your dying laptop, although you should be prepared for someone to do the same to you when you’ve nabbed the window seat.

Second, the view can be inspiring. Need to describe a town or countryside in your story? Keep your pen handy and take notes. I love all of the little towns along the Hudson River, and you get an up-close view of each station and their waterfront areas on the line between New York City and Albany.

Third, when you’re in the window seat, you only (in theory) have one person you might have to deal with directly—the person beside you. If you’re in the aisle seat, you have the person next to you, the person across the aisle, people walking past you over and over, and those kitty-corner ahead and behind chatting and fumbling and distracting you. This may also happen by the window in a particularly noisy car, but you have a better chance of avoiding most direct contact when you’re by the window. And speaking of noise…

Noise Pollution

Fair warning: I am a childless writer, so I’m a bit biased and narrow-minded when it comes to traveling in the presence of children. I’m not a fan, and I cannot count the number of crying babies and inattentive parents I have imagined exiling from the train in various creative ways. Granted, yes, some poor little kids are starving or sick or frightened, and I sometimes think of my nieces and nephews and take pity, but other cookie crunchers can shout and scream for hours on end for no discernable reason and they will destroy your creative output.

It’s in your best interest to not blow your top and end up serving a nickel in the county pen, so I suggest you:

  • Move your seat to a quieter car, which is possible on many trains, but you may not find an ideal seat once things begin filling up. Some trains, though, have cars specifically designated as no talking/no noise cars. This is also referred to as Heaven.
  • Plug in those ear-buds and play some soothing instrumental music, the sounds of a rainstorm, or heck, even some AC/DC to drown out the noise and crying around you. Remember, “Rock & Roll ain’t noise pollution…”
  • Apply duct-tape to their…no, wait, that’s a surefire way to end up in jail (DON’T do that, although you may want to apply the tape to your own ears…might not be a bad idea). Instead, and if you have a heart of gold, you might want to ask if the parent struggling with the child needs a hand. They may say no, but they might need just a few minutes of help to get things in order, and doing so might rescue them and save the day for everyone else within earshot. You never know.

Usually, when things are too loud for writing, I stick with my iPod, filled to the brim with music and podcasts to get through those bouts of crying kids, young hedge-fund analysts talking to everyone they can about their salary (this happens more than you’d imagine), or people who cannot pry their cell phone from their ear. What, afraid to be alone with your thoughts for more than 10 minutes? Seems like it. Music has brought down my blood pressure more times than I can count, so don’t leave home without it.

Creature Comforts

Some of you may not want to leave home without water and at least one snack. I left this out of my Bug-Out Bag only because many long-distance trains have snack cars with very basic selections of sandwiches and drinks, but not all do (short runs almost never do). Find out ahead of time, because if the train does offer food, that’s one less thing to pack beforehand. And even though it may be more expensive, I’m a buy-on-the-go kind of traveler. I think it adds to the adventure to scrounge from whatever’s available aboard the train (usually meager…this isn’t The Darjeeling Limited) or at the station, but some of you may want to be a little more prepared. Probably wise.

Sleeping on a noisy train may also be impossible, but I find sleeping in a quiet train relaxing and easy to do. Yes, my parents had to drive me around the block to get me to sleep—I was that kid. If it moves, I can sleep in it, but if you have trouble, bring a pillow (most trains do not have them), inflatable neck brace, eye mask, etc. Of course, if you’re sleeping, you’re not writing…then again, on a five-hour trip, you may want a nap. Do what you need to do to get comfy.

I suggested bringing two books because if there are delays and you burn through one, you don’t want to look down and realize you only have the greasy, dog-eared travel magazine to read and re-read over the next three hours when you’re taking a break from your writing. I shiver at the thought.

And if you want to watch a movie, please plug in a headset. Parents, ditto for your kids. No one wants to hear your tots watch Frozen five times in a row from Boston to Chi-Town.

Writing Effectively

Here’s where the wheel meets the rail, so to speak. When the stars align and you get a relatively quiet car, a long stretch of straight track, and you know just what you want to say, you can get a ton of inspired writing done. One of the biggest questions at this point is: How do you prefer to write? I work from a laptop, but the real-world application of writing on one’s lap can get unrealistic really fast. My laptop gets scalding hot over a five-hour trip. Heck, it’s gets toasty after a 90-minute jaunt, too.

Pull down the folding tray, you say? Good idea, but I’ve encountered many a rail rider who plopped down (some quite literally throwing themselves into the seat) and cranked back the seat to recline as if they were trying to tackle the game winner in their glory days back in Pop Warner football. This sends the fold-down tray right into your solar plexus, or at least it does when I ride Amtrak. And I’m not a big dude, just your average-joe-waist-size writer, so if you come in the extra-lovin’ size, this could be a very big problem. I’d move seats if you can. Otherwise, I’d use a pillow, scarf, your Bug-Out Bag, or a jacket so you can to rest the laptop on your lap. It may not be perfect, but if you’re on a roll, don’t stop just because someone needs that 14% more recline in order to catch some Z’s.

You can also find a seat at the end of the car, that area that has two rows facing each other. Those often have fold-out trays that come out of the armrest and no one can shove it around on you. But then you have to stare someone in the face the whole ride. This could either be the most beautiful person in the world or the most frightening, and either could be a distraction.

Also note that you won’t have a lot of extra space no matter where you sit, so if you have a bunch of folders with research papers and notepads, outlines and character studies, you might find yourself juggling a pile of paper while also typing. It can get frustrating. You could stick them in the seat pocket ahead of you, but learn from my mistake: I have twice, TWICE, left a manuscript I printed out to proof or a folder of notes for a novel in the pocket, and Amtrak wasn’t able to find either lost item. No amount Alka-Seltzer (or as book-lover Bernard Black calls them, “Fizzy-Good, Make Feel Nice”) is going to cure that heartburn and heartache. Use those pockets if you must, but be careful.

w8639_500px_72dpi_1I also find that if you plan ahead and you know exactly what you want to work on before you fold down that tray and begin typing, it will help you stay productive. Writing on a train can often come in bursts due to distractions, so if you’re going to wing it, you may just get warmed up when you have to stop and start all over again. Be prepared going in and fire away the first chance you get.

You can find more effective writing tips for authors on the go in You’ve Got a Book In You by Elizabeth Sims and Writer With a Day Job by Aine Greaney. Check them out! They’re both chock full of quick tips and inspirational write-wherever-you-can ideas.

Amtrak Residency

And finally, the Amtrak Writer’s Residency. Most of you have likely heard of this by now, but Amtrak has a program for authors who want to work on the go. I have yet to apply for this, and I don’t know all of the finer points of the residency, but I have friends on both sides of the fence concerning the quality of the program, some saying it’s a wonderful option for the traveling writer, and others telling me that they think it’s a scam and falls well short of promises. I don’t know which is true, but I may yet apply. Two writer friends who applied and were rejected received a 15% discount coupon toward their next ticket. Not a bad consolation prize, considering the price of a ticket isn’t getting any cheaper. I cannot say that will happen every time, though, and I highly advise you to read the fine print. Don’t allow anyone to take advantage of your work just for a free ride to Detroit.

Have any of you participated in the Amtrak Residency? If so, feel free to leave your opinions below, along with any other writing tips you might have for authors on the go!

James Duncan is a content editor for Writer’s Digest Books, and is the founding editor of Hobo Camp Review: Poetry & Prose from the Road. A lover of all things noir, James resides in New York City, dreams of the days of Humphrey Bogart and Edward Hopper, and is the author of the short story collection The Cards We Keep and the upcoming poetry collection Berlin. For more, visit www.jameshduncan.com.

 

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15. KidLitCon 2014 Still Wants YOU!

Have you registered yet? No? Then go! I just did, and I couldn't be more excited about how plans are shaping up--we have a fantastic team of organizers who are setting up the program of events, including a couple of meet-and-greet opportunities for... Read the rest of this post

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16. Gone Fishing...

 Last weekend, I thought about going fishing. This is as close as I got, to a lake. Another miniature painting was started and I could almost smell the cool lake breeze, hear the water lapping against the boat and see the bobber, riding the ripples on the lake.


Anyway, my plan is to start several miniature paintings over the next month or so, then finish them as time allows. I really need to work hard to meet my miniature painting goals, for the year. 


I did a few quick sketches of the cat characters and then went to a final painting. I've been adjusting the final drawing, as I go. 


The first sketch on the board (above) was too human-like. The arms were too long and shoulders were too high. I was getting too far from cat-like bodies. 


The arms still feel too long. I need to refine the proportions until they feel right. This was my weekend fishing trip...minus the fish...and the trip. 

Oh, well. I might get out on the lake, next weekend.

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17. Maybe Too Much Going On?

I like books that stay on task, as I always put it. It may be that as a reader I get distracted if there are too many different things going on. I found the cookery part of Getting the Girl, A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery by Susan Juby distracting.

Sherman Mack is a wonderful character, like a younger, less raunchy, undamaged Seth from Home to Woefield. The mystery he's investigating, who singles out girls to be turned on by the general population, is a serious one, if maybe a little over the top. Sherm's interest in cooking ties in to the mystery by the end, but it seems unconnected until then. Same with his out-there Mom and the neighbor guy who serves as a father figure for Sherm.

Juby does a couple of interesting things here. First, she does a neat twist on the cliched mean girls stereotype. She also has created a world in which every popular kid in school, whether they earned their popularity with their looks, their athletic prowess, or something else, isn't hateful. They certainly aren't heroic or particularly positive in their behavior, but, again, they aren't the evil stereotype we're used to seeing.

I have another one of Juby's books here that I hope to get to in the next few weeks. 


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19. Why research when you can do?

machine gun

I’m on a board for people whose write about murder and theft, poisons and fires. In addition to writers, there are a lot of professionals on the board - people who are or have been cops, paramedics, FBI agents, firefighters, PIs, and more.

A writer recently posted a question about what kind of gun her character should get.  She said she knew nothing about guns, and she wanted to know what her equally ignorant character would experience if she went to a gun shop and asked for help.


At which point I (and several other writers) chimed in. Why not just go into a gun store and explain what she was working on and ask their advice?  This was one real-life situation (unlike questions about, say, the best undetectable poison) where it would be easy to experience it.

And experience will give a writer so MUCH more than reading about it ever would.  She’ll be able to describe the shop without trying to google images of “gun shop.”  She’ll know the heft of a gun, and the feeling of the grip, learn it’s surprisingly heavy even though parts of it appear to be made out of plastic.  There may be smells and even tastes she would not expect.  Since her character and the writer herself are both coming from the same place (not knowing much about guns) she’ll be able to ask the questions her character would and hear the answers her character would as well.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 3.50.05 PMI have found that almost everyone likes to talk about themselves and what they do to an interested person.  I have interviewed teens, death investigators, DNA experts, and curators.  In some cases, I have gone in cold (as I would in the gun situation above).  In others, I have done the professional the courtesy of learning as much as I could before I went to them.  With Dr. Dan Crane, the DNA expert, for example, it would be a waste of his precious time to sit down and say, “What’s DNA?”  Instead I learned a lot on my own and asked about Y-STR and familial DNA testing.

When I was working on the end to The Body in the Woods, I knew it took place in Forest Park.  And I knew my bad character would be armed, and my good characters wouldn’t be.  They needed something they could use as a weapon.  But what?  I took the same walk they would have to get into the park, past nice homes, and I photographed everything I thought they might consider for use as a weapon. Real life thought of many more alternatives that I did.



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20. Andrew Crofts Reveals ‘Confessions of a Ghostwriter’ in New Memoir

British ghostwriter Andrew Crofts will lift the veil on his profession in a new memoir called Confessions of a Ghostwriter which is due out next month from HarperCollins Publishers.

In the book, Crofts details his career as a ghostwriter which he got into after his novel got rejected. Crofts has penned more than 80 books including a number of bestsellers.  Here is more from The Guardian:

Ghosts, notes Crofts, lead episodic lives: “It’s a perfect arrangement. You get the commission, have the adventure – anywhere from a palace to a brothel – and return to the security of your own home.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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21. By Its Cover (07.09.14 – 07.16.14)

by-its-cover-E

A computer crash that I still haven’t been able to get fixed has resulted in my not being as thorough this time around as I would’ve liked. I hope you’ll let me know if there were any really good indie or GN covers I missed.

DC3301-88795

DETECTIVE COMICS #33

This is a fantastic composition. Shape of the gun and position of the figures inside already does a solid job of leading the eye from upper left to lower right, but the shifting color also helps. My one nitpick would be that the bullets at the lower left establish a ground plane that makes it seem like the gun is being fired into the ground, which I don’t think was the intent.

 

SECAVN2014005-DC11-54253

SECRET AVENGERS #5

This is an interesting contrast of fun and quirk (the goat, and the videogame-esque composition) and dark (the blood and chalk outline). I like the exclamation point and question mark, but I’m not sure I follow what the other face balloons are trying to express (if they’re expressing anything?).

 

RAI-003-COVER-B-CRAIN-adfe5

RAI #3

This is a nice image, but after issue one had so many different covers of just the main character, I find myself automatically assuming I’m looking at another variant before spotting the issue number. This cover is also a great example of demonstrating flow (good and bad). The top sword does a good job of leading our eye to the logo, but then the bottom sword leads us from the logo off to whatever cover is sitting to the left of this book (and it doesn’t help that the bottom sword is brighter than the top one). One of the challenges of creating a well-designed illustration is try to figure out a way to keep the viewer’s eye bouncing around within in the image.

 

ANXFACT2014011-DC11-c1730

ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #11

I’ve been loving all the All-New X-Factor covers, so I’m going to be a little more critical of this one. After the previous issue had several characters shown full-figure, I think it would’ve been good to keep changing it up. In particular, this image would be a lot more powerful if it was a close-up that only showed the gun and the character’s head (with the words “You have five minutes to comply.”) I feel like going full-figure not only removes the impact, but the pose of the villain has a very campy ’60s Batman tone (and the Dutch angle doesn’t help). Unless that was the intent?

 

STK643414

GRAYSON #1

Look at this, its a DC cover with a centered logo! They even went above and beyond and centered it vertically as well as horizontally! I’m not sure the magenta and yellow really fits the character, but I like the illustration and logo placement. Though I think the cover would’ve balanced out better if the position of the barcode and 75 Years logo were reversed (see sloppy mock-up).

 

LastFall-01-pr-1-57af3

THE LAST FALL #1

This is a really nice image, but there are a few things holding it back. The thin strokes of the logo are so thing that it kind of hurts readability. The logo also has some major kerning issues, and the shape of that “S” looks really awkward. The logo is also placed kind of strangely, in that the logo has been designed flush left but has been placed on the right. I also kind of wanted to see the logo interact with or relate to the image on the cover in some way.

TLF-2

Here’s a sloppy mock-up of how I might’ve approached it. The bar of flat color helps to frame the volcano, and placing the bar behind the character creates a more dynamic sense of depth. Having the logo contained within the bar also helps lead our eye from the logo to the figure (via the gun on the figure’s back), and then to the volcano the figure is looking at. This likely isn’t the only solution, but it’s the first one I went to.

For the font, I went with trusty Univers Thin Ultra Condensed, which has a very epic feel. It’s the font used for the logo of Aliens, the first edition of the Dark Knight Returns TPB, and the credits at the bottom of so many movie posters.


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

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22. First Look: Cartoon Network’s ‘Over the Garden Wall’ Mini-Series

Last week at San Diego Comic-Con, Cartoon Network offered the first look at "Over the Garden Wall," a ten-episode fantasy mini-series that will debut this fall.

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23. Joe Sacco’s “The Great War”

My thanks to old Eurocomics stalwart Sebchoq for reminding me of this. The news item from The New Yorker is from November 2013 but this "exhibit" is something to go and see if you are in Paris this Summer!

Joe Sacco’s latest work, “The Great War,” a twenty-four-foot-long panorama that folds like an accordion, illustrates the first day of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in history, which took place on July 1, 1916. The Maltese-American cartoonist is best known for his comics journalism, including works like “Palestine,” “Safe Area Goražde,” and “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (his 2012 New York Times best-selling collaboration with Chris Hedges), but “The Great War” is a purely visual work, homing in on a specific moment in history. We spoke with Sacco about his approach.

When I got a call from an old friend of mine, an editor at Norton, asking me to draw a panorama of the Western front, my first response was “No!” Being a cartoonist, I always think in terms of narrative—but I grew up on Australia, and there the First World War truly gives Australians a sense of national identity. I’ve been reading about it since I was a kid, and I’ve spent so much time thinking about it—I’ve read so many books—that in the end, I thought, Why not?
Great-War-02.jpg
When you read obsessively about a subject, at some point you begin to wonder about yourself. Why am I reading another book about the First World War? What’s pulling me in? So one of the reasons I agreed to do this panorama was trying to deal with my historical voyeurism: O.K., I should deal with this now, because otherwise, why did I visit the Somme battlefield fifteen years ago? It was almost like a penance for a boyhood interest that had lasted so long.
Great-War-03.jpg
I don’t feel a separation from the people I read about in history books. Right now, I’m working on a long book on Mesopotamia—that’s years in the making, it’ll take a long time. I’ve been obsessed with the Middle Ages, I’ve been obsessed with the ancient world, I read a lot about different subjects—and to me, they’re all living people, just people who are just no longer with us.
Great-War-04.jpg
When we first talked about my drawing a panorama of the Western front, the idea seemed static. But immediately I thought of the Bayeux Tapestry [a work probably made in the eleventh century depicting the Norman Conquest], which has a narrative. William the Conqueror in France is getting ready for the invasion; they’re building the boats; they’re crossing the English Channel; then there’s the Battle of Hastings, and you basically read it left to right. It just came to my mind that I could show soldiers marching up to the front, going to the trenches, going over the top, and then returning after they’ve been wounded, back through the lines to the casualty-clearing station behind the front. So it seemed like a very simple idea, and to be honest, I just wanted to draw. On a visceral level, it was just a pleasure to think only in terms of drawing.
Great-War-05.jpg
It was a relief not to think about words, and to do a different kind of research. I did a lot of image research and I actually had to read a lot of books, because sometimes prose takes you where photography never went. I would read and get images in my head, and it was just a matter of putting them down. I’ve spent a lot of time doing journalism, and I still am interested in it, but I think the artist side of me wants to sort of come out now. And that’s what the Great War was to me, letting myself go in that direction.
Great-War-06.jpg
I can’t get journalism out of my blood, so even for this First World War drawing, I needed to get everything right about the details. With the Mesopotamia project, which is very historical, I’m interviewing archaeologists, so that’s how my journalism background comes into it—it’s not just about reading and then distilling. I can get to the level where I can ask intelligent questions, but obviously you have to speak to people who really know that sort of stuff and have spent ten years on digs.
Great-War-07.jpg
When I worked on “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” with Chris Hedges, it grew organically—he and I are good friends. I’d do these little scenes of some of the people we met. I’ve done that in my other work, so I thought, Why not just translate the approach into an American context?
Great-War-08.jpg
I’ll probably never give up journalism … but I’ve done this for twenty years and I’m not sure I need to go to another conflict zone. You begin to see the similarities in certain human behaviors, and that starts to interest you. There are some things that may be easier to approach artistically than journalistically. I’m not sure I’ll write fiction, but fiction allows a writer to connect the dots while journalists often place the dots down without connecting them. And, I mean, I just need a creative change.
Great-War-09.jpg 
 There are some video links but the videos are in French.

 
 

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24. SDCC ’14: Middle Grade Extravaganza – panel recap

By Matthew Jent

This Sunday morning panel was moderated by David Mariotte of San Diego’s own Mysterious Galaxy, a bookstore that specializes in “Martians, Murder, Magic & Mayhem.”

“Middle Grade Extravaganza” focused on the books and series for a pre-Young Adult audience, and the panelists were a mix of prose authors and graphic novelists, including Rachel Renee Russell, New York Times-bestselling author of the Dork Diaries series; EJ Altbacker, author of the Shark Wars series; “that scoundrel” Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series (whose greatest regret is that he has “but one life to give for Gondor”); Paul Pope, author/illustrator of the Eisner award-winning Battling Boy; P. Craig Russell, illustrator of the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book, as well as a number of comics adaptations of timeless operas; the “ever mysterious” and sunglasses-clad Pseudonymous Bosch, author of the Secret Series and the upcoming Bad Magic; and Mr. 50-million-copies-and-counting Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants and Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot.

The Middle Grade panel at attention, with Paul Pope slouching in the middle.

The Middle Grade panel at attention, with Paul Pope slouching in the middle.

While it wasn’t a packed room, it was impossible to squeeze into the front rows — the fans here for this panel wanted to make sure they had a seat close to the authors.

David led off the panel by asking, “What is it about series that works so well with middle-grade readers?”

Paul Pope responded by paraphrasing Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics assertion that the space between panels allows readers’ imaginations to fill in the gaps, allowing for a richer experience. “Episodic fiction does something similar,” he said. “You get to fill in the gaps yourself. And it’s a tradition — even the Iliad was told in episodes. ‘Come back tomorrow night, at the campire.’”

Many of the panelists said it went back to their own experiences as middle grade-age readers and wanting to spend more time with favorite characters. “I wanted to read more about Harriet the Spy,” said Rachel Renee Russell. “You want to stay with those characters.”

Asked how they keep their stories accessible for tween-age readers, Brandon Mull said it comes down to writing good scenes. “I create a chain of good scenes,” he said, with “a main characters you can relate to. But a good story is a good story.”

During the audience Q&A, a young fan asked Paul Pope how he came up with the idea for Battling Boy. Pope said he wanted to make comics for an underserved audience. “I have nephews who were your age,” he said, “and they thought it was cool I was making comics, but they can’t see most of it. It’s geared toward adults. And I’ve done work for Adventure Time or Disney, but — when I was young, I read old Fantastic Fours or X-Men, but there just aren’t that many comic books now written for people of your age group. I wanted to write the best superhero for people your age, so they don’t have to keep going back to Batman, who is 75 years old, and Spider-Man, who is middle-aged.”

Another young fan asked Dav Pilkey if he’d had a mean principal himself when he was young, and if that helped inspire his book.

“My teachers and principals were very abusive, sometimes physically,” Pilkey said. “It did not help me. I remember telling me mother — not about the physical abuse, but the emotional, psychological abuse — and my mother told me, everything happens for a reason. Maybe something good will come out of this. I don’t think she had this in mind.”

Pope added that “One of the joys have writing to a young audience is, you retain your innocence. I’m writing to myself as a younger person in a lot of way.”

Pseudonymous Bosch, who wore sunglasses throughout the panel, added that, “It helps if your own maturity level stays where it was when you were 12.” He then took an “unselfie” of the audience, asking them all to cover their faces as he took their picture.

Rachel said that her Dork Diaries were inspired by her own children, who had struggled socially as kids, but who had grown into successful artists in their own right. She introduced her daughter Nicky in the audience, and who had taken over the illustrations for the Dork Diaries with the second book.

The Q&A unfortunately ended while there was still a line of young fans waiting to talk to the authors, but the panel headed off for a group signing that would hopefully allow for some one-on-one interaction. There’s often talk around the comics industry about whether comics have left younger fans behind, but at this panel it was clear that kids were still excited about comics and illustrated prose.

The key is — as it has always been — respecting the intelligence and imaginations of your audience, regardless of their age, and creating art that raises interesting questions.

“A hundred years ago, a good sci-fi writer might image we’ll have cars,” Brandon said. “But a great sci-fi writer will imagine we’ll have traffic jams.”

 

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25. Squeetus summer book club: Enna Burning, chapter 17

Enna-spanishI'm back from a wonderful time at San Diego Comic-con and ready to get back to work!

Part 4: Friend: Here's where the structure of this story gets really unusual, I think. There is still a quarter of the book left, but Enna ending the war would have been a traditional climax. Some readers might expect no more than a denouement here. Our brains are trailed to expect that story structure, which I totally appreciate. But I wanted to tell a slightly different story. So we head into the final quarter.

Fever dreams: I mentioned my love for fever dreams?

These two lines always stay with me:

"It was war."

"I was me."

Yasid: For words in their language, I borrowed from Guarani, a language indigenous to Paraguay. "Tata" means "fire" (accent on the second vowel). As well, the tea Isi drinks that smells like "seeped hay" is my feeling about mate, a drink I often had in Paraguay. I prefer mate dulce (with milk and sugar) or terere (yerba mate with cold water and ice and often mint or other herbs) to traditional mate. With apologies to mate purists. :)

AH! Sileph again! What will that man do next?

Catherine says, "This has nothing to do with the book club, but I thought you would like to know. I visited Jane Austen's home today (which was absolutely amazing) today and I overheard the cashier in the gift shop giving a raving review of Austenland, the movie. Congratulations! You've made it back to the motherland!" Ha! That's awesome.

Nicole asks, "Are Isi and Enna based off people you know or did they just spring to life in your wonderful mind?" Thank you! I rarely base characters off real people. They develop as I write the story. A character is what they say, do, think, and until I write I can't see that. I thought I knew Enna when I wrote The Goose Girl, but not till this book did I realize I'd only scratched her surface. You may notice she seems slightly different in all the Books of Bayern, because we're seeing her through other characters' points-of-view.

Lynn asks, "Do you think of a character and then name them or do you start with a name? I don't know why but I pronounce Enna's name as Eena or Ina." I say "Eh-na" but I don't mind if anyone says it differently. I met a baby named Enna once (after my character I believe) and recently someone named a baby Isilee (which is a name I made up, as far as I know).

Eliza says, "Last time I read this book, it was about struggling with a problem no one else could see and conquering your inner demons. And now it's about friendship! Haha, you tricky book, changing on me like that." Yay! I love that about books, how they change with you.

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