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Results 26 - 50 of 618,547
26. Julia Wertz on illegal pinball—and running her own crowdfunder

Here’s a history comic on Newyorker.com by Julia Wertz about when pinball was illegal in New York City

In other Wertz news, she’s working on Impossible People, a second memoir about her alcoholism that she started after The Infinite Wait and then abandoned. To fund it’ she’s running her own crowdfudning effort, which you can support at the above link. Why her own thing?

While many cartoonists have had success with Patreon (a monthly donation site) or with Kickstarter for specific projects, I decided I would rather create my own page for two reasons. 1) Both those sites are built on a rewards model for donation amounts. While that sometimes works great, my time is very limited and I think it would be more beneficial for readers, and myself, if I use all my time to generate new material for everyone to read, rather than spending time making extra nonessentials for an exclusive group of people. I’d much rather be making less money while producing substantial work, than making more money and creating extraneous things. A) I am uncomfortable with the transparency sites like Patron and Kickstarter that make public financial amounts and goals. It is really no one’s business how much or how little anyone is making, and I have no set financial goal, as I’m just grateful for anything.

Here’s a page from the original version:

I’m a big fan of Wertz’s work—it’s funny, perceptive and brave. Her reasons for going with her own platform make a lot of sense for some creators—fulfilling elaborate Kickstarter pledges are a lot of work, and Patreon, while not as complex, has its own time-consuming maintenance. I hope a bunch of people will support her in her work.

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28. Spoiler alert ....

Tomorrow is the grand opening of "The Book Bar".  It is a new feature on Storywraps.  Authors, Illustrators, Musicians and anyone, anywhere, anyhow connected to books will be featured here.  

 Tomorrow I feature Perrin Brair and his book, "Keeping Mom".  I will tell you about his book and his interview with me.  Please come ready to relax, sip some beverage of your choice, and hang out with like-minded "bookies".  (the legal kind) :-)

I will be bartending, "The Book Bar" will be open once a month, (the last Saturday of the month) and adult content will be highlighted.  It will be fun to pass on good adult books for you to read and enjoy.  I am building a virtual bar here and you are invited to join me.

I will post as usual in the mornings so it can be a breakfast bar, a brunch bar, a dinner bar, an evening bar...depending where in the world you live and your time zone.  See you here tomorrow as the doors open for the first time.  I am excited to launch this and see how it goes and grows.....

Raising the Bar on reading!

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29. Jack & Louisa Act 1, by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Weterhead

Jack can't believe that he is moving from New York City to a suburb of Cleveland!  He knows that it's where his dad is from, and that work is bringing him there, but for a kid city born and raised, the suburb and its stand alone houses aren't exactly familiar territory for him.  His parents know he's feeling down when an offer of listening to the Into The Woods soundtrack is turned down.

Louisa is just coming down from being at Camp Curtain Up (theater camp if you can't tell) with the other MTNs (musical theater nerds).  As she and her parents pull into their driveway, they notice that the new family is moving in two doors down.  Louisa notices that the kid looks about her age, and then suddenly she notices his tshirt.  It's from the musical Mary Poppins! This is a very interesting development. After all, up until now, Louisa was the only MTN in her grade!

If Louisa only knew! Jack's dad's job wasn't the only reason they were moving to Cleveland.  Jack had lost a job himself. He is a theater kid, and not too long ago he was cast in the musical The Big Apple.  And not in a bit part either.  He was super excited to be part of the cast...until the first rehearsal.  Jack is going into 7th grade, and his voice was changing. The notes no longer came easily...and sometimes they didn't come at all.  So Jack was no longer first choice for the role.  Which obviously made leaving NYC a heck of a lot easier.

In this age of google, Louisa finds out about Jack pretty quickly.  And seeing as they are in the same class at school, she figures they are pretty much meant to be friends since they have so much in common.  But Jack is thinking about reinvention.  It's pretty easy to be a theater kid and be a boy in NYC, but in Cleveland he figures his soccer skills will make his life easier than his singing and dancing skills.

Sometimes, however, it's hard to turn off what you really love.  And when the community theater announces it's putting on one of Jack's favorite shows of all time, will he be able to resist the call of the stage (let alone Louisa's influence)?

This is a pitch perfect middle school story that's not simply about theater, but drills down into issues of family, friendship and being true to oneself.  Keenan-Bolger and Wetherhead get the voices spot on without ever venturing into over-the-top Glee caricatures.  The alternating voices go back and forth in time, but are never confusing, rather a great device for giving the back story in pieces instead of one big chunk.  Fans of Federle will eat this up, as will fans of realistic fiction and musical theater.

Super fun.

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30. Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Congratulations to Rebecca Van Slyke on the release of Mom School, illustrated by Priscilla Burris (Random House, 2015). From the promotional copy:

In this adorable kid’s-eye view of what would happen if Mom went to school, a little girl imagines Mom School, where all moms learn their amazing skills, like fixing a bike tire and baking cupcakes. 

With warm, funny illustrations and a fun role-reversal story in which moms act like kids, young readers will love imagining what would happen if their own moms went to Mom School.

More News & Giveaways

Heather Has Two Mommies Author Leslea Newman on New Edition & Reflecting Back by Katharine Whittemore from The Boston Globe. Peek: "The 2000 version, for example, included a long note to parents and teachers that recounts all the controversies surrounding the book. In the 2015 one, 'we made a conscious decision not to have a foreword or afterword,' says Newman. 'No explanation, no fanfare; it’s just a kids book about many kinds of family.'"

Why Does My Action Read Slow? by Deborah Halverson from Dear Editor. Peek: "The reader gave one bit of elaboration: 'Some of the paragraphs ‘feel’ long even though they aren’t.' I’m not sure what to do with that. Suggestions?"

About the Girls: Appropriate Literature by Elana K. Arnold from Stacked. Peek: "...it all happened. To a good girl with a mother who thought her daughter was protected. Safe." 

Picture Book Apps & The Vanishing Author by Sandy McDowell from Digital Book World. Peek: "Picture book apps often don’t even cite a writer. When they do, the author is likely the animator, designer or developer."

Leveling and Labeling: An Interview with Pat Scales by the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committe from ALSC Blog. Peek: "...the practice of limiting students’ access to materials based on reading levels that infringes on students’ right to read. Unfortunately, this is common practice in many school libraries, and some public libraries feel pressured to implement such restrictions. Librarians serving children should evaluate how these systems are used and develop policies that promise free and open access to students of all ages."

Why Do We Need Diverse Books in Non-Diverse Schools? by Taun M. Wright from Lee & Low. Peek: "While equity and inclusion are necessary, especially for those of us too long without them, social change is more likely to happen when everyone understands how they will benefit directly from increased diversity and, what’s more, why their ability to embrace the benefits of diversity will be a key determinant of their future success."

Critique Etiquette: The Ultimate Guide for Giving & Receiving Feedback by Angela Ackerman from Writers in the Storm. Peek: "For this to work, a person must respect the other’s role, value the time and energy writing and critiquing takes, and follow through without letting emotions overrun good judgment or manners."

Children's Books Could Save the Independent Bookstore by Jonathan Brett from BRW. Peek: "Brick-and-mortar book shops that sell printed books are enjoying a resurgence in Australia just a few years after the rapidly expanding digital book sector threatened their very existence."

Texas Institute of Letters

The Best Books in Texas: Texas Institute of Letters Finalists Named by Michael Merschel from The Dallas Morning News. Peek: "The venerable Texas Institute of Letters has named finalists for its annual awards, which honor the state’s best writing."

Denton Record-Chronicle Best Children’s Picture Book: Pat Mora, I Pledge Allegiance, illustrated by Patrice Barton (Knopf); Arun Ghandi and Bethany Hegedus, Grandfather Gandhi, illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum); J.L.Powers, Colors of the Wind, illustrated by George Mendoza (Purple House).

H-E-B/Jean Flynn Best Children’s Book: Nikki Loftin, Nightingale’s Nest (Razorbill); Naomi Shihab Nye, Turtle of Oman (HarperCollins); Greg Leitich Smith, Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn (Roaring Brook).

H-E-B Best Young Adults Book: Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, Pig Park (Cinco Puntos); Katherine Howe, Conversion (Putnam's).

For Teen Writers & Artists

If Someone Only Knew from Never Counted Out. YA author e.E. Charlton-Trujillo Challenges At-Risk Youth to Write Their Stories for Each Other and Not as Suicide Notes. Peek: "Write an essay that answers this sentence: 'If someone only knew...' A selection of submissions will be published to the Never Counted Out blog. Select essays will be published anonymously in 2016 in a paperback anthology..."


Cynsational Screening Room

Check out the vivid, imaginative pop-up-book style trailer for Move Books' 2015 middle grade list.


Cynsational Giveaways

The winners of signed copies of Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb (HarperCollins, 2015) were Kathleen in Missouri and Deena in New York.

The winner of The Dickens Mirror by Ilsa J. Bick (Egmont, 2015) was Alicia in Alabama.

Enter Diversity in YA's 2015 Anniversary Giveaway. Peek: "With generous donations from publishers and authors, we are thrilled to be giving away 100 books with main characters who are of color, LGBT, and/or disabled." Note: includes Cynthia Leitich Smith's Feral series (Candlewick, 2013-2015).

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

A touch of spring beauty in Austin.

Great news! This week marks the release of Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves by Ann Angel (Candlewick, 2015)! The anthology includes my short story, "Cupid's Beaux," which is told from the perspective of the guardian angel Joshua from my Tantalize-Feral universe. Learn more and enter the giveaway from Cynsations. 

Congratulations to Katie Brown, recipient of the 2015 Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award from Austin SCBWI. Peek: "Eleven finalists were chosen...2015 mentor Brian Yansky has announced Katie Brown as the recipient. Congratulations, Katie!"

Link of the Week: Personal Wholeness (Or Lack Thereof), Strife & Story from Marion Dane Bauer.

Personal Links:

Now Available!

More Personally

Now Available!

Cynthia will appear from April 14 to April 17 at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Texas Library Association in Austin.

Join Cynthia from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. May 2 at Saratoga Springs Public Library for a celebration in conjunction with Saratoga Reads! at Saratoga Springs, New York. Note: Cynthia will be presenting Jingle Dancer (2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001) and Indian Shoes (2002)(all published by HarperColllins).

Cynthia will serve as the master class faculty member from June 19 to June 21 May 2 at the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency in Montpelier, Vermont.

Cynthia will speak from June 25 to June 30 on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.

Catch up with the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels!

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31. Regrets… I’ve Had a Few

There’s been a lot of positive feedback on my previous post, and a lot of offers to participate — so I hope to keep bringing you guest posts from writers across the success spectrum about the kind of failure writers experience. I’ll start with my own.

I want to focus on the kind of failure Debbie Reese was talking about when she jumpstarted this — she referred to a game developers conference where developers speak frankly about failures (sometimes with huge losses of investment), and specifically about a game with Native American tropes that missed the mark. She had critiqued it while in progress, and the developer initially reacted to the critique with the defensiveness and defiance, he ultimately saw her point and grew from it.

It’s important to learn from criticism, especially coming from historically marginalized groups. It is also completely natural to be frustrated by it, defensive, defiant, upset, and annoyed. You spend untold hours working on something creative and it only takes a few minutes for someone to shred it. When a book is already published, there’s not even much you can do about the offense it causes, making it that much easier to push back. But it stunts you as an artist not to listen to feedback. Charlie Chaplin said that artists should actively seek out rejection, and abandon the need to be liked. Part of that is listening to criticism and mulling it over, and part of it is learning to critique yourself in a constructive way.

I have three regrets (and I would probably have more if I thought about it).

First, I have some Native American backstory in my first book, Mudville, and feel like those characters are real and vital to the book. Because such legends figure into the fantasy of the midwest, I felt like I was on firm soil. I got mixed reactions from readers, though, and in particularly upset a woman who had helped me with the Dakota language and cultural aspects as I put the book together. I don’t know what I would do differently were I to start over: drop that backstory all together? Make it more essential? As it is, I can see how readers feel it’s tacked on, appropriating a culture in a half-hearted way, without much sensitivity to the terrible treatment Dakota people have had in this region. At best, I see myself like the school bully at a 20-year high school reunion, throwing his arm amiably around old victims and acting like those episodes of bullying were harmless shared capers that we indulged in together. “We’re cool, right?”

Second, I’ve written previously about Binyavanga Wainaina’s essay, “How to Write About Africa,” and how my own book about Africa measures up. I feel like I failed here to know the tropes well enough to avoid them. I patted myself on the back for writing a positive book (and still think those books are necessary), but live with the fact that I fell into the familiar role of white colonist, having the most important African characters be (a) a wild animal, and (b) the sage, magical character. I did a lot right in the book and it’s still my favorite; it is honest about my own experience, but if I had discovered Wainaina’s article before I launched into the book I might have done something even better, something less reliant on cliches.

Third, I think perhaps my biggest regret in any of my books is not making Penny the main character in Winter of the Robots. She’s my favorite character in the book, and both strategically and for the benefit of the girls of the world, I wish I could have said, “this is about a girl who has a knack for programming robots,” and made that the core of the book. If I ever write a sequel, that will be it. As it turned out, even with two girl characters asserting themselves, they take a backseat to the boys when it comes to building and developing the robots and fighting the battles. (OK, one literally drives with the boys in the back seat, but nobody’s going to be fooled by that one scene.)

All of these figure into how I approach books now. More beta readers from other backgrounds is essential, more attention to the way “others” are treated, more challenges to myself to not settle for my instinctive plot lines that are informed by a literary history of white men.

It’s self-serving. I admit to the failures so I can write better books.


Filed under: How to Fail Tagged: how to fail, Mamba Point, Mudville, winter of the robots

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"You don't give up till you get what you want...and if you don't get what you want, you know you have never given up...which is as good is getting what you want." Quote by unknown artist who never got published :)

This gloomy weather is almost over and I am feeling a bit more charged up and ready to tackle the pb biography again after the great feedback and encouragement I received a few weeks ago at the illustrator mentorship. And to tweak the pig dummy and adjust color issues.

And new samples and a smaller portfolio in the works.

And and and....

perhaps work on an art show

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33. Naonori Yago

Naonori Yago

Naonori Yago is an art director/ designer who specializes in work for the art and fashion industries. Working with a variety of materials, he creates dense, layered compositions pulsating with color and light. I’m especially fond of his work for Laforet HARAJUKU in which he created a series of transparent sheets that when combined formed a unified graphic.


Naonori Yago

Naonori Yago

Naonori Yago

Naonori Yago

Naonori Yago



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34. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 3/27/15: Jason Shiga is lord


§ MUST READ: Laura Hudson enters the world of Jason Shiga, who is probably one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists. If you don’t believe me, go read Demon, or Fleep. He’s surely one of the great visionary thinkers about the possibilities of comics storytelling, his comics unfolding like tesseracts in real time and space, with codes, traps, mysteries and more.

The first time Shiga blew my mind was with an interactive graphic novel called Hello World. The story is simple enough: You’re a little boy sent to the store by his mother with a grocery list of items and a suitcase to carry them home. But the moment you open the cover, it’s obvious this is unlike any comic you’ve ever seen before. Every page is sliced in half, separating the comic into two parts. The top half is where the story unfolds, while the bottom half displays the contents of your suitcase. The two sides are connected by an intricate system of page-turning: When you see a number inside a square, you flip to a page in the top half of the comic, advancing the story; when you see a number inside a circle, you flip to a page on the bottom, adding and removing items from your suitcase. That’s when you realize that this isn’t just a choose-your-own-adventure story: It’s a comic with a functional inventory system.

Much more in the pprofile, including Shiga’s post -Demon plans.

§ A very nice story by Margo Dabaie about a class she taught for aspiring cartoonists:

I loved hearing the stories they had in mind because they were always really ornate and involved (I definitely had to drop some gentle reminders that there’s only one page to work with!). It was clear the students were fans of comics and were excited to make work.

§ Another cool story about how comics worpshops are being used in the Mumbai district of Dharavi to educate and improve, as reported by Ryan Holberg.

Usually, World Comics India, wherever it goes, collaborates with local activist groups. A trained “comics tutor” will be sent to conduct a workshop, the composition of which, in terms of age and sex, differing widely according to locale. The tutor first gets workshop participants to speak about social and political issues important to their daily lives. The participants are then instructed in the basics of how to make short four panel comics, from step one of conceiving a story idea, to breaking the story down in panels, and finally inking the drawings. The finished comic is then photocopied and pasted onto walls. Other formats like eight-page booklets are also produced. The range of topics depends on the locality, and the nature of the collaborating NGO: from concerns with water shortages in states like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, to illegal deforestation in Mizoram. Political corruption, male alcoholism, discrimination against women, and health problems due to bad sanitation have been treated in workshops in many states, giving you a sense of how extensive these problems are in India.

§ Speaking of improving, the once great state of Indiana has passed an odious law that allows discrimination, and it’s sad to think we live in an era where this is playing to the basest of bases. Anyway, the large gaming show Gen Con is threatening to leave the state because the law may allow attendees to be discriminated against:

The so-called “religious freedom” bill, passed in the Indiana House of Representatives Tuesday, would give business owners free rein to refuse to provide services to anyone if they claim doing so would go against their religion. That could mean a baker could refuse to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, for example. Gen Con CEO and owner Adrian Swartout sent a letter to Pence on Monday in which she said the state will stand to lose the $50 million the convention brings to the city of Indianapolis each year if the bill becomes law.

She wrote:   Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years. We ask that you please reconsider your support of SB 101.

Other, non nerd associated companies are also warning that they will stop investing in the state.
§ President Obama won the internet this week by posing with the above Girl Scout troop who has arrived at the White House for a Science Fair dressed as superheroes. Perhaps emboldened by this, he talked about his interest in comics in a letter to supporters;

I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman. Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story — the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.

We got our milk board!

§ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM8sfznqoFk
Here is a video of Dan DiDio talking about Convergence which I understand imparts important information about this event. Perhaps someone can explain it to me.

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35. Passengers

Sketching on the train

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36. Announcing the Friday Book Club

Most of what I know about painting and art history I learned from old books, and every once in a while I like to reread them, because learning is a lifelong process.

That led to an idea. What if we created a free forum on the blog where we could all compare notes about a favorite book?

What book to start with? It could be a biography, an art history book, or an art instruction book.

And it should be broken up into chapters. We're all busy, so we can read and discuss just one chapter a week. I'd like to suggest we begin with Harold Speed's "The Practice and Science of Drawing."

Harold Speed (1872-1957) was Royal-Academy trained portrait painter. His teaching method focuses on solid principles that have stood the test of time. Check out some of his drawings and paintings at the National Gallery website.

Like Solomon J. Solomon and some of the other great teacher/practitioners of his day, Speed expresses an insightful respect for the old masters. One thing I like about his concept of "mass drawing" is that it offers the student a natural transition between drawing and painting.

Harold Speed, Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon
The Practice and Science of Drawing is easy for everyone to acquire, and it's available in many different forms. It is available as an inexpensive softcover edition, which I recommend so that you can jot notes in the margins. You can also get a free Kindle edition. Or you can read it online in a free Archive.org edition.

This isn't going to be a workshop. I'm not the teacher, nor will I be comprehensively summarizing the points of the chapters. I'll just share my basic take-away from each reading, and I may show an example of how those thoughts affect — or have affected—my own practice. I'm expecting to learn from you and from the discussion. I will try to answer a few questions, but I'm hoping that members of the forum can help shoulder some of the Q and A.

We'll discuss a new chapter every Friday. Let's get started a week from today with the Preface and the Introduction. That's your assignment, and mine, too. Those who have time can do practice exercises related to each chapter as we move through the book.

If someone wants to set up a Facebook or Pinterest group for posting artwork, that would be great, and I'll link to it. I may stop by for a quick visit, but I'll probably focus most of my attention and comments on the blog so that the forum and discussion will be archived and searchable.

Let me know in the comments what you all think of the idea.

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37. Thoughts on Books: Please Disturb


“The writer whose words are going to be read by children 

has a heavy responsibility. And yet, despite the undeniable fact

that the children’s minds are tender, they are also far more tough 

than many people realize, and they have an openness

and an ability to grapple with difficult concepts

which many adults have lost.”

– Madeleine L’Engle


Over the past couple of years, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of disturbing readers.

Shaking them up.

In fact, I believe that many readers, consciously or unconsciously, crave the experience.

When I think about personal growth — perhaps in viewing my own three children — I imagine that it can be characterized by periods of equilibrium, followed by passages of disequilibrium, followed (hopefully) by a new, higher level of equilibrium.

Comfort, discomfort, growth.




I came to understand some of this through my experience writing my first “horror” series, Scary Tales, for young readers. I placed horror in quotes because, well, it’s not that scary; nobody gets hurt, everything turns out okay in the end. Every time. But, sure, there are some clammy palpitations along the way.

I often visit schools and the response to “scary” in grades 3-5, particularly, is wildly enthusiastic. Kids love this creepy stuff with its twisting plots, and they have long before I ever entered the scene. But I’ve also learned that there is a lot of fear out there — from adults. The redoubtable gatekeepers. A question I’ll hear at Book Festivals: “Will this book give my child nightmares?”

Of course, I don’t know the answer to that. How should I respond?

SWAMP_MONSTER_Esec02_ES_loresOkay, I’m a parent. I get it, mostly. We don’t want our kids to wake up screaming, scared out of their minds. And to that end, we don’t want to irresponsibly expose them to content that might be developmentally inappropriate. Well, a caveat there: Most people have no problem, bizarrely, with “inappropriate” content if it’s on TV or a movie. Even something as cherished as the Harry Potter books and movies — where characters are murdered, and the stories get continually darker as agents of pure evil plot death and destruction. Everybody is fine with that! But a story about a kid trapped in a cave with bats? Or unfriendly snowmen guarding a castle? Or a swamp monster?

Those things might prove . . . upsetting.

And here’s the thing: Maybe we like scary stories exactly because of that disturbance. On some deep level, maybe even unconsciously, we want to be disturbed. Because we know that it is necessary to our growth.

What does the reader learn, after losing her balance, when she discovers, Whew, I’m actually okay. I survived this.

Might there be value in that discovery?

I recently got a letter from an 8th-grade reader who was disturbed by a scene in my middle-grade novel, Bystander, where a boy, Eric, gets beaten up. It upset his sense of fairness. In the letter-writer’s mind, “Eric was being very friendly,” and he “didn’t deserve to get beat up.”

The scene bothered this reader. It shook him up a little. A part of him preferred that it didn’t exist at all.

And I think, well, good. It was supposed to do that. It was designed to make you feel something. These are the troubling scenes we remember our entire lives.

Speaking of scary, how about the Teletubbies in black and white?

Speaking of scary, how about the Teletubbies in black and white?


Now I’m not talking about pure shock, artlessly rendered. The head lopped off and bouncing, boing-boing-boing, down the carpeted staircase. Though, I guess, that might have value too. I’m talking about the fiendish clown in Stephen King’s It. Or the heartbreaking moment of when Travis is forced to shoot his rabid dog in Old Yeller. The moments that give us dis-ease.

I think that’s one of the things that good books can do for us. They disturb our tranquility a little bit. Which is also why, an aside, this entire notion of eliminating “trigger books” in the college curriculum is so misguided. The notion is that some people might be upset if they encounter certain kinds of things, or triggers, in assigned books: a mother with cancer, a rape, social prejudice, world hunger, whatever their personal trigger might be. Some believe that students should be warned about these triggers, in the hope of avoiding them.

We wouldn’t want anyone to be upset.

And I think: Good luck with that.

And also: Isn’t that kind of the point?

Illustration by Iacopo Bruno, from Scary Tales: One-eyed Doll.

Illustration by Iacopo Bruno, from Scary Tales: One-eyed Doll.

When I’m not writing Scary Tales, which is most of the time, I tend to write realistic fiction. My books have included childhood cancer, fistfights, bullying, suicide, lost pets, and car accidents. Scary stuff, life.

A book, of course, is a safe way for a child or adult to address different fears. A book can be mastered. A book can be closed. It can, simply, not be read at all. Or put aside to be read another day when the reader feels prepared. And then, on that day, guess what? The reader miraculously survives. Calm is restored.





“Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses. You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe. That nothing strange has happened, not really. It’s good to be a child again, for a little while, and to fear — not governments, not regulations, not infidelities or accountants or distant wars, but ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us.”

– Neil Gaiman

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Hello !!

I would like to ask a little bit of help from this great community ! 

I have the chance to be selected as one of the 10 finalists of a great art contest in Montréal, but to win, I need a lot of vote. So I'm asking for your help, and the help of all this community! 

To vote, all you have to do is follow this link http://abribus.ca/concours/expo-plus/exposition/agences/oeuvre/terre , enter your email, the security code (to prove you are human) and you're done ! The first time, you will have to confirm your email. You can vote one time a day until April 5th!! The all process take less then 1 minute, promise!

Thank you so much for your help !! 
And please don't be afraid to share it with your friends, Facebook, twitter, google+...
Facebook link for the event (in french) : https://www.facebook.com/events/1575723682668107/

Have a nice day !

Stéphane Lauzon 


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39. Interview: Balak, Bastien Vivès, and Michaël Sanlaville bring the award-winning Last Man to the states


A collaboration of French stars from three different mediums, Last Man brings together the gifted animator Balak, Bastien Vivès, the much heralded comics creator, and Michaël Sanlaville, a rising talent in game design, for a manga influenced, tournament-based martial arts adventure that’s been all the rage in their native country.

The planned 12 volume series, 6 of which have been published, was recently awarded the Prix de la Serie at Angoulême this year, highlighting the popular and critical acclaim of the series overseas. Last Man centers on Adrian Velba, a 12 year old boy enrolled in Battle School whose highest ambition is to participate in the annual tournament sponsored by the King and Queen. After the sudden departure of his required partner, Adrian faces having to wait another year to compete, until a mysterious loner named Richard Aldana, who is also in need of a partner, crosses his path. This unlikely pair, and how they turn the tournament and city on its ear, makes up much of the excellent first volume, entitled “The Stranger”, which sees English-language publication from First Second on March 31st.

I was fortunate enough to chat with these three creators in the lead-up to its release in the U.S.:

balak 2

L to R: Sanlaville, Balak, Vivès

You began working on Last Man in 2013, what was the origin of the project and how was the creative nucleus of this ensemble formed?

Balak: Bastien and I have known each other for 12 years. We hung out at the same message board, catsuka.com<http://catsuka.com/>, chatting about comics, Japanese animation and well-endowed women, the usual geeky stuff. Then we went to the same animation school in Paris, Gobelins, where we met Michael. Bastien and Mic got along well and quit the school to make comics. Years later, Bastien told me he’d like to make a comic book with eveything we like in it: cool one-liners, great adventure with a manga-ish epic feel, larger than life characters and larger than life natural breasts. In short: The very reason Art exists. The catch is that we wanted to do it the manga-way: to draw 20 pages a week and publish 3 books a year. So we had to be a three-person team, well organized, and say goodbye to any social life for a few years. It seemed like a cool project, so  here we are.

While reading the first volume, I was reminded of my time perusing some of my favorite mangas, including that of the shounen variety, was that an influence…or more specifically, was there a particular type of action-based storytelling that informed this series?

Balak: Yes, that was the reason Bastien asked me and Mic to join in the first place. He knows we’re avid manga readers since forever. Basically, we wanted to have this very calibrated shounen feel that we love in the first books, and put our little twist on it: What if John McClane was thrown into a Dragon Ball tournament? We mixed the two things we loved: manga and US action movies we watched as kids. This stuff made us who we are today, for better and worse. Last Man is the result of this.

Last Man looks to have a fairly wide audience appeal, particularly in terms of age, what is it about tournament stories that seem the draw the younger audience?

LASTMAN-sampler-1lowBalak: Even the worst Hollywood script doctor would tell you that story is about conflict. A tournament is the core of the most basic, comprehensive storytelling. You’ve got a hero you’re rooting for: he wants to win the cup, and everyone wants the same thing as well. The premise is simple, almost visceral. That’s why manga of this type are popular, they manage to convey each characters burning will to win and emotions; each battle is a story in itself. But when we say it’s simple, it doesn’t mean “simplistic.” Keeping things simple is hard, there is an unnoticeable elegance to it that is very difficult to achieve.

Were there any story elements in particular that you implemented or had to adjust in order to attract younger readers?

Balak: Not at all, we just did things as we pleased. The only thing we naturally refrained was sex. It can be sexy, but you don’t have anything too graphic.

Describe a typical day in the creative process for the series, were you all huddled in a room together planning out the beats of the story or was it more segmented?

Balak: “A quiet mayhem” is the best expression that could sum up our typical day and creative process. We don’t write much like a regular script. Bastien puts down his ideas on 10 or 15 pages for the book to come. Mic and I read it, then we discuss it, have several meetings, decide what is changing, what would be better. I take quick notes on a paper towel and I directly draw the 20 first pages of storyboard, come up with dialogues ideas, new situations. Each Monday, we discuss what the next 20 pages will be about, while Bastien and Mic draw the previous pages, 10 each. It’s not very kosher, and it’s quite exhausting, but it’s what keeps our ideas fresh and our motivation going. If we had the classic “here is the script, then we do the whole storyboard, then we can draw the whole thing,” it wouldn’t work for us. With our method, it feels very organic, we are constantly reacting on each others pages, at any time.

There’s a fascinating sense of culture combination in this first volume, with a setting that resembles pre-Revolutionary era France but with Eastern traditions sprinkled throughout. What is it that makes these two very different cultures mesh so well together?

Balak: To be honest, we didn’t put a lot of thoughts into this culture mix. We just drew what seemed right to us, the French medieval thing is a part of our culture, we just put a martial art in it not thinking twice if it would match or not… It seemed obvious to us!

Bastien, you’ve had a few of your comics translated into English into the past, how has the LASTMAN-sampler-2lowtranslation process for Last Man compared? Has it been relatively smooth overall or have any pieces of dialogue had to be changed outright?

Bastien: My English is not very good, so I can’t really tell!!!  But I think First Seconds did a good job!
Balak: The translation is very good, some cultural, typical French things are well adapted to an English audience. The main difference is that the French version is filled with cursing and very bad language that the English version is toned down a little . . . Aldana is even more rude in French!

For Balak and Michael, was the transition into comics a difficult one from the work you’re used to, or is there a natural handover from gaming and animation into sequential art?

Balak: I always wanted to draw comics. That’s the very first thing I wanted to do as a kid, so it’s not an issue at all. Sometime I’m a little frustrated by the page constraint, the fact that you can’t surprise the reader anytime you want, you have to take care of the double spread, keep your surprises for the first panel of the left page. . . . But it’s fun. I tried to get rid of this by creating something called Turbomedia, a way to make digital comics. You can see how it works by looking up Marvel’s Infinite Comics line, I’ve worked with them on this. Or even better, check the great Mark Waid’s Insufferable, at Thrillbent.com.  It’s cool. (Yes, that was a shameless plug.)

Do you see Richard Aldana as a character to be admired or one to be pitied? Is it somewhere in the middle?

Balak: You pinpointed Richard. He’s right in the middle. He’s a badass, he’s looking cool and cracking jokes, but you wouldn’t want his life. But don’t try to show him pity, he would punch you in the face. Or walk away with a burning one-liner that would hurt you even more. Or both at the same time, if you’re not lucky.

Will Richard’s background play a bigger part going forward in the next chapters being released this year?

Balak: Yes, a big, BIG part. We’re even making a whole animated TV show about Richard’s past. It will be out in 2016 in France. It will be dark, violent and funny.

When you’re writing the dialogue of a child Adrian’s age, how difficult is it to find a right tone of voice that sounds natural?

LASTMAN-sampler-3lowBalak: Adrian’s way of talking is mostly Bastien’s. He’s kept is inner ten year-old child very close. It seems very easy for him. When I’m writing Adrian’s dialogues, it almost always sounds wrong.

Last Man was incredibly well received in your home country, to the point that it won the Prix de la Serie at Angoulême. What was the first thing that went through each of your minds winning such a prestigious honor?

Balak: I should’ve dressed better for this.
Bastien: It’s very good to feel supported in your country.
Balak: (Bastien tries to look tough and all, but he cried on stage. Really.)
Mic: It happened quite fast, I think I haven’t realized yet what it means. . . . To me, this prize goes out to all the great Japanese manga artists that inspired me to draw, and are still unknown to the wide audience for the most part. . . . But things are changing, so that’s good.

At what point was First Second the natural choice to bring Last Man to the states?

Balak: Mark Siegel gets the book totally, it seems that everybody there genuinely loves what they are publishing. We’re proud to be  surrounded by all these other great books.

Beyond the translation of Books 2 and 3 this year, what’s next for the series? I understand there are other media plans. How is that process coming along? Is it possible I’ll be playing as Richard Aldana in a video game soon?

Balak: Hopefully, it should happen this very year! We’re producing our own video game, called Last Fight. It’s kind of like Power Stone, you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLFxFKmqYDs If everything goes smoothly, it will be released in September. And as I’ve said previously, the animated TV show about Richard’s past is scheduled to next year. On each project, we have a very close look on the whole creative process.

What can/should your American readers look out for in Books 2 and 3? Any major surprises you can tease?

Balak: I can guarantee you some surprises . . . I can only say that you won’t stay into King’s Valley too long.

You can pick up Last Man Vol 1: The Stranger this coming Tuesday, March 31st from First Second at a book retailer near you.

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40. Annual 2015: What To Do There -- And When You Come Home

This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

You’ve decided to attend the annual conference this year! If you haven’t been before, and even if you have, you must be excited. Attending conference is a lot of fun but it is tiring and it can be overwhelming as well. Here are some tips to help you share what you learned once you get back to your home library.

  1. Pick up handouts from the programs you attend, note the exhibits that catch your eye and get information from those that you can, and ask for business cards from others in the library world that you want to start a network with. Building your professional network is one of the best opportunities of conference. Great ideas come from networking with your colleagues on a national level.
  2. Know that the ALA conference website is your friend. After conference, and sometimes before, you will be able to access slideshows from programs, people who present at programs, and an extensive vendor list.
  3. Be aware that there is no way you can take everything in that interests you at Annual. There will be some things that really excite you and those are the ones you should focus on. If it doesn’t really excite you it will be hard to implement when you get back home. Your excitement will be contagious to your colleagues. That said, if there is a colleague or friend who really wanted to attend but couldn't, it can't hurt to pick up an ARC specifically for him or grab an extra handout for her.
  4. Be ready to fall back in love. One thing I always take back to my library from any conference I attend is a sense of rejuvenation and renewal. I always regain excitement for what I do and I get a greater sense of the importance of libraries, librarianship, and library support positions in the greater world. Just bringing that invigorating feeling back is a wonderful result of attending a national conference.
  5. Once you get home be sure to write up a summary of what you did at Annual. You can share it with your supervisors to justify the time away from the library and to justify the funding that you receive to attend. It will also help to support conference requests you make in the future.
  6. Share what you learned with your colleagues in your library system or if you are a solo librarian with your regional or statewide colleagues. You will inevitably find others who share your passion in implementing what your learned. And you may find others that you didn’t know shared your interests!
  7. Consider writing something up for a regional or statewide organization publication or website. Tweet, Facebook, or get the word out on other social media platforms – you will probably find partners outside of the library too. If you blog, start blogging soon after you get home before you forget things or lose your notes. If you don't blog yet, doing a guest post at a blog you love (cough - YALSA has two) about a conference session is a great way to start!
  8. Know that seeing results of taking action won’t happen immediately. A lot of the programs and vendor wares you will see are the “future of libraries.” Work towards creating similar programs or offering similar services when you get back to your library. Put the seeds in to place and then work them in to your busy summers (and autumns!).

Have fun, and see you in a program or on the exhibit floor!

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41. My Thoughts: Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

4 caramel apple cookies.

Cover Love:
I do like this, probably most because of the font and the colors.  I think it's eye catching and sparks curiosity.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
For some reason I have been interested in cults, must be because I enjoy watching The Following.  This one caught my eye because of the idea of the rapture.  Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.
Romance?: Yes!

My Thoughts:
This was a super fascinating story.  I can see how one man was able to rise up and caught hysteria, I could see the right person doing that now.  There is a lot of unrest in this nation, and in the world and the right person, saying the right things, giving stability, could rise to power.  However, one thing that was weird was that there weren't that many people who went missing.   Compared to the amount of people in this nation, the number was barely a blip.  I don't see how everything really started falling apart when it was that few people.  I guess that because of the weird things that came after I guess people really thought the world was going to end six months later.

And there was the disparity of people who didn't get saved with the first rapture so they go overzealous.  And the people who just decide they weren't saved so they didn't care.  I do think that something like that would really happen.  People trying to do everything they can to be saved and people who decide to live out the remaining time committing all sorts of sins.

Vivian Apple is awesome because she decides not to sit back and take it.  She doesn't want to wait out the remaining six months and she knows something isn't right, as many probably do, but she goes after the answers.  And convinces others to come with her.  Her best friend Harp and Peter are good companions and I loved the little romance between her and Peter.

And what she discovers at the end make up for any slow moving parts in the book.  Great twists and a satisfying conclusion.  But a cliffhanger ending makes me want the second book ASAP!

To Sum Up:  I got this for my library but am wondering if it isn't a little mature.  The topic is one that most middle schoolers probably don't even think about, they still accept religion at face value.  I enjoyed this story but think it might be better suited in a high school library. 

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42. Sleep Softly - a bookwrap

"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high/In a land that I heard of once, in a lullaby./Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true."


Sleep Softly - Classical Lullabies By Brahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy... Performed by L'Ensemble Agora and Illustrated by Élodie Nouhen  (a Storybook & Music CD)

This book will become a treasure as you tuck your little one into bed each night.  Sixteen classical lullabies orchestrated for a wind quintet and harp are performed exquisitely by the critically acclaimed L'Ensemble Agora. Beautiful music will lull your baby into the land of dreams where whimsical, dream-like illustrations from the book will inhabit their minds, calming them and giving them peace.  The author Élodie Nouhen gives brief explanatory notes describing how each song was composed and how it was arranged for this recording.  The CD was recorded in France and will not only soothe a crying infant, but will be enjoyed by the whole family as well.

The playlist is:

* Barcarolle - Jacques Offenbach

*Après un rêve - (After a Dream) - Gabriel Fauré

*Von Fremden Ländern (Of Foreign Lands) - Robert Schumann

*La Boîte  à joujoux (The Toybox) - Claude Debussy

*Gymnopédie No. 1 - Eric Satie

*La Poupée (The Doll) - Georges Bizet

*Sändmannchen (The Little Sandman) - Johannes Brahms

* Wiegenlied (Lullaby) - Johannes Brahams

*Solveig's Song - Edvard Grieg

*Schlafe, mein Prinzchen, schlaf ein (Sleep, My Little Prince, Fall Asleep) - Bernard Flies

*Ständchen (Serenade) - Franz Schubert 

*Gute nacht (Good Night) - Franz Schubert

*Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty's Pavane) - Maurice Ravel

*Feuillet d'album (Album Leaf) - Emmanuel Chabrier

*Dors, ami (Sleep, My Friend) - Jules Massenet

*Brezairola (Lullaby) - Traditonal

This set is very high quality and very classy.  It would be a perfect gift to give to a new born.  I highly, highly recommend it. 

"The result is a relaxing 34 minutes of sound and visuals for all ages to enjoy together." 

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

Contact me: Storywraps@gmail.com

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43. Flogometer for Rachel—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Needed--none in the queue for next week. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.

The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.

Rachel sends the first chapter for an untitled novel. The rest of the chapter after the break.

Some people thrive under pressure. I’m not one of them.

‘What do you mean, you can’t do it? You’re not stupid.’

Mum pushes me out of the way and stands in front of the door. 

‘Let me do it.’

She glances at the list of numbers on the panel. A perfectly manicured nail (French manicured, anything else is tarty) flies across the buttons. Five seconds later, the intercom buzzes.

Mum fixes me with a must-try-harder frown.

‘Honestly, Martha.’ 

‘Neurology department. How can I help?’ says a voice.

‘You can start by opening the door,’ replies Mum.

‘Do you have an appointment?’

‘Professor Hopkins to see Doctor Randall at 1.30pm.’

Mum checks her watch. It’s now 1.25pm. Mum is the type of person who gets somewhere ten minutes early and waits on the doorstep for nine minutes and 59 seconds before she rings the bell. A buzzer sounds as the metal door springs open. Mum ushers me in with a don’t-dare-dawdle stare.

Were you compelled to turn Rachel's first page?

Lovely writing and voice in this chapter, and at the end the protagonist, Martha, is faced with a terrifying prospect. But will a reader get there? There’s low-level tension between mother and daughter here but, for me, no story questions are raised. What’s going to happen next? They’re going into a building for an appointment. An appointment for what? We have no idea. It turns out that Mum has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. If there were some sort of hint, perhaps a page turn would be warranted—Here we are, ready to learn if Mum is losing her mind in a most terrible way. That would raise a strong enough story question to get me to the real story question raised at the end of the chapter.

The chapter continues with well-done characterization. I enjoyed Martha—but, for me, the process of getting to the appointment and the description of the waiting room and its occupants, while interesting, do nothing to propel the story forward. Even though Rachel uses the chapter to set up and define the characters, I urge her to get much closer to the inciting events, which are the diagnosis for Mum and the fact that Martha has a fifty-fifty chance of, as she refers to it at chapter end, the time bomb in her brain going off some day. That was a compelling sentence for me, and if the first page could get there I’d be on board. You can characterize Mum and Dad as they deal with this rather than before the big story questions are raised. I’d like to read this novel, I think, but I’m not sure a lot of readers would get to the chapter’s end. See what you think after the rest of the chapter.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.


Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Rachel


I step into the hallway and check the board of names on the wall. Mum likes me to figure things out for myself. I shouldn’t rely on other people, not at my age.

She tugs down her jacket and brushes an invisible fleck from her skirt as we wait for Dad to shuffle across the carpark, a carrier bag in each hand. Mum bought him a leather satchel but he says it’s too nice to use. Not that there’s anything important in the bags. He just likes carrying stuff around.

‘Sorry darling, didn’t have the right change for the meter,’ puffs Dad, wiping at his bald head.

He shakes the plastic bags and a splatter of rain drops flies in every direction. Drying his glasses on the edge of his shirt, he gives me a rueful smile. Mum rolls her eyes. We now have three minutes to find the right department.

‘Which floor, Martha?’ demands Mum.

‘Third,’ I say.

Mum checks the board and runs a laser-focused eye down the names.

‘Lead the way, then.’

Reluctantly, I climb the stairs. Mum knows I don’t like going into a room first. She also knows I don’t like speaking to people I don’t know. The more I do it, the easier it will get, she says. It doesn’t.

When I get to the third floor I crouch down and pretend to do up my laces. Today I’m lucky. Mum has more important things on her mind than my social incompetence and her patent-leather shoes click-clack right past me. She presents herself at the reception desk with a flick of her long black hair. Sometimes I swear her heels actually click together.

The receptionist, a plump woman with eyebrows plucked out of existence, waits a few moments before looking up.

‘If you’d like to take a seat, Doctor Randall will be with you shortly.’

Her lips twitch upwards in a gesture not to be confused with a smile. She’s met Mum’s type before. Full of self-importance, these professor types. Never a please or thank you. She looks at me quizzically. I pat down my hair. Perhaps it’s sticking up from the rain. She turns her attention to Dad who flattens his non-existent hair. Then I see the cause of her curiosity: two brown lines have been drawn on her face just above where her eyebrows should be. The result is a face that’s permanently surprised.

Mum answers with a perfunctory nod and sets trajectory for the seating area. Self-doubt isn’t in Mum’s genetic code. Besides which, her hair wouldn’t dare be out of place.

As I pass, the receptionist flashes me a pity smile - the kind she reserves for teenagers with overbearing mothers. Or ones about to be diagnosed with a brain tumour.   

I keep my head down and follow Mum into the waiting room. With its beige walls and brown carpet it couldn’t be any more dismal. A fish tank bubbles away in the corner: a single clown fish bobbing near the surface. Presumably it’s soothing for the patients. Poor Nemo’s been soothed to a watery grave.

Thankfully Mum sits a safe distance from the other nine people waiting. (I always count how many people are in a room.) I take a seat next to Mum and pull Dad down next to me. I’ve always been a stranger-magnet. And they nearly always smell weird and want to tell me their life story.
Aside from the hum of the fish tank, the occasional cough and the ticking of the clock, the room is quiet.
Tick tock. Tick tock.

The longer we wait, the louder it gets.

Do they make clocks with extra loud ticks just for waiting rooms? I bet someone did a study and found that hospitals with loudly-ticking clocks have the shortest waiting times. People would rather stick their head in a fish tank than be driven slowly mad. 

I glance at Mum. Sitting bolt upright with her eyes wide open, anyone would think she is daydreaming. Anyone who doesn’t know her, that is. Mum never switches off. She’s always analysing, judging, problem solving. Right now, she’s probably working on a cure for cancer. Or about to give the receptionist something to really be surprised about.         

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Just when the ticking can’t get any more annoying, Dad takes waiting-room torture to Jack Bauer level. It’s called Emotional Freedom Therapy and is meant to help with his nerves. Basically, he taps two fingers of one hand on the wrist of the other. If he’s not tapping, Dad is tuning into the mother ship: twiddling with a tiny needle sticking out of his earlobe. It’s an acupuncture thing. For anxiety. Jumpy Joe Mum calls him, on account of his fidgeting. Right now Jumpy Joe could out-run the Duracell bunny.

I pick up a copy of Celebrity Sizzle and am about to find out what happens When boob jobs go bad when Mum snatches it off me and shoves National Geographic in my hand.

Every day you don’t learn something new is an opportunity wasted,’ she whispers. 

Mum turns her attention to Dad next. I can almost see the red dot hovering between his eyes. An Aviation magazine almost lands on his lap, until Mum spots: Worst air disasters in history, and sends it flying back to the table.

Bereft of reading material, Dad’s eyes jump from one public information poster to the next. He wraps a hand around his throat and feels for an imaginary lump under his armpit as he reads: ‘Influenza can kill’ and ‘Don’t ignore the lump in your breast, it could be cancer.’ You know it’s bad when he cracks open the Rescue Remedy. It’s a wonder his ears don’t spring a leak.

Luckily, I don’t have to feign interest in the ancient civilizations of Antarctica for long, as just then the receptionist appears. Twelve pairs of desperate eyes swivel in her direction, hoping that she will utter the winning syllables of their name. When she calls Petra Hopkins, it feels as if we’ve won a prize. I’m not sure who looks more surprised – us or her.


Mum pushes open the door to the consultant’s office. Doctor Randall is young with a soft face and dimples. He stands and smiles hopefully. I don’t have to look at Mum to know what she’s thinking. The boy is barely old enough to shave, how can he be: driving a car/getting married/a brain surgeon [insert as appropriate]. Perhaps that’s why he keeps his credentials on the wall.

‘Hello Petra,’ says Doctor Randall, stretching out a hand to my mother.

The way she glares at it, you would think she’d been offered a snake to hold.

‘Professor Hopkins to you.’ 

A patch of red flushes across the doctor’s face. Apologising, he blusters swiftly on. 

‘And you must be Mister Hopkins.’

‘Joe, please,’ replies Dad, shaking the doctor’s hand. 

I stare at the floor. Thankfully, the doctor’s hand snakes its way back to his hip. 

‘Please, do take a seat.’

The three of us sit in unison, like performers in a well-rehearsed play.

The doctor pauses a moment and clears his throat before launching into the speech. He’s reviewed the scans, read the notes and conferred with a senior specialist, and there is no doubt in his mind. Mum is presenting with early onset dementia. He realises that this must come as quite a shock and we must have questions and he will do his best to answer them.

The three of us stare at him blankly.

Early onset dementia.

He must be talking to the wrong family. Mum is 45. Old, but not old enough for dementia.


The word rolls around my head like a marble – perhaps I am losing mine too?

‘Familial Alzheimer's disease is called that because it’s passed down the family via a faulty gene,’ explains the doctor, as if using small words is going to make the monster he’s just unleashed into the room any easier to wrestle into a corner.

Mum frowns and says: ‘Mutations to the amyloid beta A4 precursor protein located on the long arm of chromosome 21.’

‘Yes,’ says Doctor Randall in surprise.

He scans his notes. Obviously they don’t mention the fact that Mum is a world-leading geneticist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine five years ago. And anyway, surely statements like this prove that Mum can’t be losing her mind? 

Finally, the jigsaw piece falls into place on his face.

‘You’re not the Professor Hopkins?’

Dad nods wearily. He’s been the husband of the Professor Hopkins for twenty years but still hasn’t got used to it. Professor Hopkins casts a long shadow, and I should know. Next to her, I’m a pale imitation. Mum is as beautiful as she is smart: tall and slender with olive skin, almond-shaped eyes and long, black hair. As luck would have it, I didn’t inherited her brains or her beauty. 

Doctor Randall sits a little straighter in his chair before continuing: ‘It usually strikes between the ages of 30 and 60 years of age but can be earlier. Even as young as 16.’

He looks at me with this last bit. 

Dad glances nervously at Mum, who is now standing up and peering at the doctor’s framed certificates on the wall.

‘What can we expect to happen?’ asks Dad.

‘Rates of deterioration are usually slow. In your wife’s case, however, it’s occurring very quickly. It’s like nothing we’ve seen before.’

Mum turns around and looks bizarrely pleased. Even when it comes to losing her mind, she has to do it better than anyone else. 

‘It really is quite remarkable,’ says Doctor Randall, shuffling through some MRI scans on his desk and waving one in our direction.

Dad looks like a man who’s just been offered a dirty magazine in church. No, he does not want to see his wife’s remarkably diseased brain, thank you very much. Mum takes the scan and sits back down. Whatever she sees, her face is a blank.

Dad groans and twiddles with the needle in his ear. If he were the one with the rare brain disease, Mum would develop a new drug to slow down its progress. Mum has a brilliant mind – which is why it’s inconceivable to think she might be losing it.

‘What can we expect to happen?’ asks Dad, leaning forward and pinching the bridge of his nose.

He’s way beyond Rescue Remedy. We’re across the border and heading for panic attack city. 

‘Breathe slowly, Dad,’ I say, resting a hand on his back.
Before the doctor can explain, Mum cuts in.

‘Patients with Alzheimer’s experience memory loss, have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before. They lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may forget where they are or how they got there. They forget words they once knew and –.’

The three of us watch her in amazement. The way she lists things so matter-of-factly, she could be describing things that are going to happen to someone else, not her.

‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ asks Mum. ‘I was just answering the question.’

Mum goes back to staring at the doctor’s certificates. She’s often distracted when she’s focused on her work but there’s something different about the way she looks lately. Vacant almost. A shiver runs down my back. I can’t believe she has dementia but I can’t pretend everything is normal either. 

Doctor Randall interrupts the silence: ‘There’s something else. I’m sorry to have to tell you that most people with the disease have a life expectancy that is - .’

‘How long?’ asks Dad.

‘Five, eight years at most.’

The doctor pauses for us to absorb this latest body blow.

‘We have a specialist nurse who can run through what to expect and the support options available. Though, as I say, the speed of deterioration is unusual, so it’s difficult to put a timeline on things.’

‘And what about me?’ I whisper, feeling instantly selfish for asking.

The doctor shoots a worried look at Dad.

‘There is a fifty-fifty chance that you carry the same gene. Genetic counselling can be made available to you once you’re eighteen,’ says the doctor.

I stare at him blankly.

‘Genetic counselling is a chance for you to decide whether or not you want to take the test. It’s a big decision to make.’

Dad and I instinctively look at Mum. Professor Hopkins makes the big decisions in our house - but right now Professor Hopkins is lost in another dimension.

‘And if Martha has the same gene?’ asks Dad.

‘I’m afraid there are no treatment options available.’

‘There must be something?’ asks Dad. ‘A research programme, a new drugs trial, something?’

‘I don’t want to give you false hope,’ says Doctor Randall, glancing at the framed certificates on his wall.

Dad, who doesn’t have any certificates on his wall, looks as if he would happily shake the hand of false hope right now. He’d hug it to him like a drowning man clings to a life buoy.

‘Martha will take the test as soon as she turns eighteen,’ says Mum, snapping back into wakefulness.

I listen in amazement as I’m relegated to the spectator bench of my own life. It’s better to know so that I can prepare. Apparently. How do you prepare for losing your mind? Write Post It notes to remind yourself where you left your keys? Write a memoir while you still can?

It’s my life! I want to shout but I know there’s no point. I am sixteen-and-a-half. Eighteen months is plenty of time for Mum to change her mind. Or for me to write a million Post It notes.

‘That’s something for Martha to think about,’ says Doctor Randall, closing the notes on his desk with an air of that-concludes-business-for-the-day.

The three of us stare at him. This man with a soft, cheerful face, who has turned our world inside out.

‘I am available if you have any further questions.’

I take Dad’s hand, then reach out a hand to Mum. They look as vacant as each other. I stand up slowly, my legs heavy as if they belong to someone else. Slowly, we make our way back into the waiting room. 

Tick. Tock. Tick Tock.

The ticking is louder than ever, only this time it’s not the clock. It’s the time bomb in my brain.

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44. Stacy Henrie's Cozy Reading Corner

My favorite place to read is curled up in bed, in spite of comfy chairs and couches elsewhere in my house. Whether snatching time during the day or at night after my kids are asleep, I love to climb in bed with a good book. Typically that means an inspirational historical romance. And speaking of historical romance, the third and final book in my Of Love and War series A HOPE REMEMBERED releases on March 31. 

--Stacy Henrie

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45. Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches Review

Title: Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches Genre: Comedy, High School Publisher: Kodansha (JP), Crunchyroll Manga (US) Kodansha USA (US) Story/Artist: Miki Yoshikawa Serialized in: Weekly Shonen Magazine Translation: David Rhie Ryu Yamada is a delinquent at Suzuka High School and wholly unpopular so while he’s heard about honor student Urara Shirashi he’s never talked to ... Read more

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46. #hoteloween: just how fast must you be to get a good room at Comic-Con?

san diego comic con 2007

For over a decade we’ve been chronicling the agony of getting a hotel room for San Diego, and this year’s fret spree seemed to find new ways to be stressful. As we’re writing, the admission letters are going out, and it’s like the lottery scene from The Hunger Games for tension and FOMO. For some reason, I got a room—I got one last year but got shut out the year before, so it all seems random in the end. Time stamps, forms that didn’t load, fate, destiny…for some reason this year has has more anxiety about how it was going to work out, and as the selection of tweets below show, a sense of humor is a good thing to be armed with.

The thing about the hotel room sprint is that it isn’t random—like the badge lottery—or selective—like getting a pro badge or a press badge or an industry professional badge. You can marshal evidence or get a testimonial to get those things. But not so a hotel room.

No, getting a hotel room is a physical and mental race against the clock. You need to have Nolan Ryan’s fastball, Ronda Rousey’s reflexes and Edward Snowden’s keyboard skills. It’s the ultimate test of nerves for nerds.

But some may wonder, just how short IS the window to get a room downtown? I think the notification that downtown hotel rooms are gone usually starts within about 10 minutes, but the timestamp needs to be a lot shorter than that. While there is no definitive way of knowing the answer to what is the magic time stamp—short of hacking into Travel Planners— the Unofficial Comic Con blog ran a survey of attendees vis a vis their hotel longings, and we’ve taken the results of the questions “How long, including initial load time, did it take you to submit your form?” and made a chart. Oh yeah we did.
560 people answered this question so while it’s a sample, it’s a decent sized one. As you can see, most people are in and out in under three minutes, with most within two minutes. That’s about the length of the Ramones classic “Blitzkrieg Bop” so you may want to use that as a training guide for next year.

Anyway, if you’ve been thinking you don’t have long to get that form filled out and submitted…you’re right.

Oh yeah and here’s the twitter reaction.


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47. Something to celebrate

In my opinion, there is almost always something to celebrate! Just ask my kids who have enjoyed half-birthdays and even "sister of half-birthday boy" occasions! Any excuse for a special meal, cupcakes, song, or a party! Planned or spontaneous, big or little, let's have more fun together. And if you spend any time at all with young children, you know they revel in discovering and celebrating the fun, odd, interesting things they're learning about every day. So, it's no surprise that I have loved being part of producing the latest installment in our POETRY FRIDAY series of anthologies: The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. It was so fun to research the various occasions that are featured in that book, to work with Janet (Wong, my partner in celebration) to curate the perfect poem for each day, week or month, and to think about how to engage kids in experiencing each poem.  

But you may not know that each of our books (in the Teacher/Librarian edition) also features some front and back matter that we hope will help the adult reader with tips, lists, and guidelines on selecting and sharing poetry with all kinds of kids. For example, we always include a bibliography of OTHER poetry books that are connected to the topic of the book, so we can get kids reading even MORE poetry!

In the back of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, you'll find a list of other poetry books full of occasional poems and poems for various holidays and celebrations. Here is that list just for you.

Whether it’s Christmas, Halloween, Mother’s Day, President’s Day, or another occasion, sharing a poem can make for a memorable moment. Here is a selection of books with poetry for children about a variety of celebrations. 

Ada, Alma Flor and Campoy, Isabel. 2015. Días y Días de Poesía: Developing Literacy through Poetry and Folklore
Andrews, Julie and Hamilton, Emma Walton. Eds. 2012. Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year.
Brown, Calef. 2010. Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness
Carlstrom, Nancy White. 2002. Thanksgiving Day at Our House: Poems for the Very Young.
Farrar, Sid. 2012. The Year Comes Round: Haiku through the Seasons
Ghigna, Charles and Ghigna, Debra. 2000. Christmas Is Coming! 
Ghigna, Charles. 2003. Halloween Night: Twenty-One Spooktacular Poems. 
Grimes, Nikki. 2002. Under the Christmas Tree. 
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2004. Christmas Presents: Holiday Poetry
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2004. Hanukkah Lights: Holiday Poetry
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2005. Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2005. Valentine Hearts: Holiday Poetry.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2014. Manger. 
Hopkins, Lee. Bennett. Ed. 2010. Sharing the Seasons. 
Janeczko, Paul. Ed. 2014. Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
Jules, Jacqueline. 2001. Clap and Count! Action Rhymes for the      Jewish Year
Lewis, J.  Patrick. 2007. Under the Kissletoe: Christmastime Poems
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of  of the School Year. 
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2013. World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You've Never Heard Of. 
Mak, Kam. 2001. My Chinatown: One Year in Poems
Mora, Pat. 2001. Ed. Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers
Mora, Pat. 2008. Join Hands: The Ways We Celebrate Life
Muth, Jon. J. 2014. Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons
Nesbitt, Kenn & Linda Knaus. 2006. Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney.
Newman, Lesléa. 2014. Here Is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays. 
Orozco, José Luis. 2004. Fiestas: A Year of Latin American Songs and Celebrations
Prelutsky, Jack. 2007. It’s Thanksgiving!  
Prelutsky, Jack. 2008. It’s Christmas! 
Raczka, Bob. 2010. Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys. 
Raczka, Bob. 2014. Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole.  
Salas, Laura Purdie. 2008. Shrinking Days, Frosty Nights: Poems about Fall.
Sidman, Joyce. 2009. Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors.
Sidman, Joyce. 2013. What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings. 
Singer, Marilyn, 2012. Every Day's a Dog's Day: A Year in Poems.
Sklansky, Amy E. 2004. Skeleton Bones & Goblin Groans: Poems for Halloween
Swaim, Jessica. 2010. Scarum Fair
Vardell, Sylvia and Wong, Janet. Eds. 2011. Gift Tag
Whitehead, Jenny. 2007. Holiday Stew: A Kid’s Portion of Holiday and Seasonal Poems
Yolen, Jane and Peters, Andrew Fusek. Eds. 2007. Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry.
Yolen, Jane and Peters, Andrew Fusek. Eds. 2010. Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems.  
Ziefert, Harriet. 2008. Hanukkah Haiku. 

For the month of April, I will be featuring short videos of children reading some of the poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. These were produced by my amazing graduate students and shared with their permission. We even have one BLOOPER reel!  So stop by next week and throughout April for this fun celebration of National Poetry Month. 
In the mean time, if you need more information about the book (and you missed it in the 1000 places I've been tooting that horn), here you go:

It's the FOURTH book in the Poetry Friday Anthology series! It’s The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Teacher/Librarian Edition and Student/Children’s Edition). You’ll find poems for 156 holidays in English and Spanish, including: Random Acts of Kindness Week, Children’s Book Week, World Laughter Day, National Camping Month, International Literacy Day, Global Hand Washing Day, and more! 

Poets include: Jack Prelutsky, J. Patrick Lewis, Joyce Sidman, Margarita Engle, Marilyn Singer, Nikki Grimes, Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy, Ibtisam Barakat, Uma Krishnaswami, Francisco X. Alarcón, Linda Sue Park, Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt, Jorge Argueta, Grace Lin, Joseph Bruchac, Douglas Florian, Laura Purdie Salas, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, and 95 others.

Get your copy of the Teacher/Librarian Edition (with mini-lessons) here:
QEP Books

Get your copy of the Student/Children's Edition (poems only) here:
Student/Children's Edition
QEP Books

You can find more info at:

Plus, check out our new boards at Pinterest where we have poem visuals for each of our books. Just look for Pomelobooks (one word) at Pinterest.com.

Speaking of Poetry Friday, head on over to Jone's place for more poetry goodness!

Image credits: pomelobooks.com;churchgoers.com;shorpy.com

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48. Schubert Medley (Music box Sound)

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49. Two Nerdlebrity duos launch competing crowdfunded comic-con TV shows

Seems like everyone had the same great idea at the same time: with comic-cons proliferating, and nerdlebrities making a circuit out of it, wouldn’t this be fine fodder for a realityish TV show/webisode of some kind? And wouldn’t actors who had starred in TV shows that had insanely fanatic fanbases but who didn’t get much airtime outside of that be the perfect  people to do it?

It seems both Firefly’s Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion and Supernatural’s Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, Jr had the same idea. And both have turned to Indiegogo to bring these ideas to fruition.


The Tudyk/Fillion effort launched first. It’s called Con Man and it’s already a go, with $2,386,241 raised, a bit more than the $425,000 they were going for. This is a scripted adventure about nerdlebrities who go to cons starring…nerdlebrities who go to cons.

Wray Nerely (Alan Tudyk-Me!) was a co-star on Spectrum, a sci-fi series which was canceled -Too Soon- yet became a cult classic. Wray’s good friend, Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion) starred in the series and has gone on to become a major movie star. While Jack enjoys the life of an A-lister, Wray tours the sci-fi circuit as a guest of conventions, comic book stores, and lots of pop culture events.  The show will feature all the weird and crazy things that happen to Wray along the way to these events.

Galaxy Quest without the galaxy, then. Okay maybe a little Galaxy.


In an interview with EW, the pair expanded on the idea::

Fillion and Tudyk are hoping to raise $425,000 to finance the show’s first three 10 minute-long episodes. But Tudyk says that he has written 10 scripts in all so far and that at least one later show will indeed see both actors back on a spaceship. “There’s a lost episode of Spectrum that gets released within the show,” he says. “That’s done in a funny way—but there are actual scenes of me flying a spaceship and Nathan captaining.”

Guest stars will include more Firefly alumni, Sean Maher and Gina Torres, and othr nerdlebirty royalty including Amy Acker , Seth Green, Felicia Day, and director James Gunn. Easy to see why this has raised so much money. The initial budget was for three 10-minute shorts, but I guess there will be more than that.


Meanwhile, the Supernatural effort is more of a “reality-based” show set within the world of Supernatural fandom. It too was once called “Con Man” but now it’s called Kings of Con and here’s the pitch:

$100,000 will cover production costs for the first three to five episodes, and Benedict says 10 have already been “roughly written and mapped out,” with a 10-minute teaser/pilot previously filmed. According to Benedict, “Our idea is that every episode will be a new city that we’re in — or rather, the suburb outside of that city where our hotel is! We’ve shot in our actual conventions too, so you’ll get a POV of the view from the stage during karaoke, and a bird’s-eye view of the merchandise room, the lines, the crowds, the energy… in a utopian world, we want to continue to capture all that in each episode.”



This effort has already raised $57,000 of the $100,000 requested..in fact it raised about $7k while I was writing this post, so I think this will hit its target as well. It only launched yesterday and they are aware of the rival show:

While Benedict and Speight acknowledge that the concept sounds similar to another crowdfunded comedy series inspired by two genre actors’ convention experiences (Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion’s “Con Man”), their series has been in development for over a year, and is wholly inspired by their “real life exploits within this ‘Supernatural’ convention world — with our own creative, fictional spin,” Benedict tells Variety. “While it is nowhere near reality TV, it will be shot naturalistic and play on our relationship with each other and others through scripted and semi-scripted dialogue. Rich and I have developed quite a rapport over these few years, and quite a unique, combustable and comical relationship. We’ve been to the front lines, so to speak, and have been in the thick of it, all around the world, together. Really, this show is about Rob and Rich, and the conventions will serve as a unique backdrop for that quirky relationship.”

These are not the first efforts in the “nerdlebrity goes to a con” genre. The trailblazer in this regard is Mark Hamill’s Comic Book: The Movie in which he portrays Donald Swan, a documentary filmmaker who goes to Comic-Con and meets a lot of weird people. Made in 2004, this features the state of the art autograph circuit of the day, such as Stan Lee, Chase Masterson, Bruce Campbell and Kevin Smith in cameos.

Then there was Morgan Spurlock’s Comic-Con IV: A Fan’s Hope, the 2012 actual documentary about people who go to Comic-Con. Actually, I think Bruce Campbell also made a short film about fans and fandom, but no one has ever seen it.

Huh well whaddaya know.

I have my own idea for a movie set at a comic-con, but it’s so explosive that I can’t even talk about it here. I’ll just give you the elevator pitch: Clue + Comic-Con. Interested parties can contact my agent.

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50. An Interview with Amazon Best Selling Author Inger Iversen

BookBuzzr author Inger Iversen’s book – Inevitable: Love and War – recently hit the #1 spot on the Amazon. We reached out to Inger to learn more about her story.

The screenshot below was taken on Mar 05, 2015.

Inger Iversen's Amazon Book Rank

Tell us about your journey as an author so far.
When I started I didn’t think I would make a career out of being an author. Inger IversenI’d planned to write a book or two to supplement my income and have a hobby that would be a stress reliever after a hard days work. However, I soon realized that while I loved to write, it was also hard work and very rewarding. I started in 2011 when I wrote a very short prequel called, Goodnight Sam. I didn’t know much about the indie business back then, but I’d like to think that I have grown and come a long way. I went from writing a book in eighteen months to being able to write one in two weeks, I’ve learned how to brand and market myself, and I am doing much more than just supplementing my income these days.

What is the storyline of Inevitable?
Inevitable follows Teal and Trent to Maine for Katie and Logan’s wedding. Teal is a workaholic, a loudmouthed, takes no prisoners type who actually works in a prison. Trent is the proverbial boy from the wrong side of the tracks with a bad attitude and a good reason behind it.
Place these two in a stranded in a cabin for a few days and let the games begin…

Walk us through a typical day in your life.

Ha! I have a boring life! I only work six hours a night at my “day” job, so when I arrive at home at 6 a.m. I write. On a normal day I write from 7 a.m. to about 10 a.m. and then I sleep. I have such an odd schedule, but that makes for easy writing time. I wake up around 4 p.m. and write again until about 8 p.m. On this schedule I can write a novel in 14 days!

How do you divide your time between writing and promotion?
Dividing my time between writing and promotion one of the hardest aspects of the job. While I want to promote and get my work out to new readers, I have to write in order to make current readers happy and not waiting too long between novels. That is where BookBuzzr comes in. I use the Twitter Scheduler and Freado giveaways to promote and tweet about my novels. I use Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis. Actually, I feel like I spend 90% of my time on Facebook and about 10% writing!

What are some of the things that you do to promote your book?
To promote my book I use Amazon giveaways, Freado giveaways and I use Bookbub, the Midlist and OHFB to promote. Those sites email my sales and deals out to their subscribers who are interested in receiving notifications about books and sales. I also hired a production company to create a trailed for my novel, Incarcerated. The biggest tool I use is Facebook. It is where the readers seems to be so it is where you will always find me!

How does BookBuzzr tie in to your overall marketing plan?
BookBuzzr is really helpful. I love the Tweet scheduler function and it is one of the reasons I choose BookBuzzr over other sites. I learned about BookBuzzr last year from Rachel Thompson of Bad Redhead Media and I have been using it every since.

Your book trailer for your other book Few Are Angels is of a very high quality. How did you get this book trailer made? What was its impact on book sales?
The book trailer for Few Are Angels has made a BIG impact on my career, boosted sales and reviews. Last year I attended a conference called, UtopYacon. This was a big step for my career. I attended a Marketing class and a ‘How to Utilize Facebook’ class. While there, I screened a short movie called, Avarice created by Timid Monster. Timid Monster is producer Dan Baker and director Rachel Taylor. They agreed to shoot a trailer for me and the experience was amazing. I picked actors and even co-wrote a script.

What’s the best part of your job as an author?
Hands down the best part about being an author is receiving emails and messages from readers about how my stories have touched their hearts. There is no greater reward.

In your role as an author, what are some of the activities that you need to do but dislike doing?
Ugh…research! I hate research! I just want to write and write, but there are those few times when I need to fact check. A recent example is in the final book of the Few Are Angels series, Eternal Light. I have to research medical techniques from 1666. I cannot tell you how boring it is to read over information about the crude and crazy medical techniques of that period.

What advice would you give to a new author?
I get asked this a lot and I have two gems that I love to share.
1. Never, ever and I mean never give up. You are your own worst critic, but you are also the only person who can tell your stories and readers want to hear them—trust me.
2. This isn’t a hobby. This is your business, your brand and your name. Readers will only respect it as much as you do. Treat it as if you love it because I know you do or you wouldn’t be here. I know it can be expensive, but always get professional editing, covers and formatting. Yes, some of use are multi-talented and can do some of these things, but if you can’t just let the professionals do it.

Note to Reviewers:
For a limited time, a free review copy (paperback) of Inger’s book Inevitable is available on Freado.com – http://www.freado.com/auction/4485/6666/inevitable-love-and-war

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