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1. 'Why translate ?'

       It's an old piece ("first published in Books from Finland 1/1982") but now available online -- and always an interesting question: translator Herbert Lomas (e.g. Arto Paasilinna's The Year of the Hare) tries to explain: Why translate ?
       Among the questions he tries to answer: "Why this lack of interest ?" (in literature in translation) -- a situation that has perhaps improved since (there seems more intense interest -- even if not yet exactly a widespread one).

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2. Half Past Winter, by Ginger Nielson | Book Review

Half Past Winter is an adorable tale of two bear cubs and their adventure to find winter’s first snow. They grow impatient in their den when no snow comes and decide to explore until they find snow.

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3. No Tomorrow review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Vivant Denon's small eighteenth century classic (in Lydia Davis' translation), No Tomorrow, which New York Review Books brought out a couple of years ago.

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4. STATIONERY - lisa deighan

Designer Lisa Deighan has recently added a selection of  A5 notebooks to her Etsy shop. There are fifteen designs in total and they are all made in England and 100% recycled.

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5. Victorian Premier's Literary Awards

       They've announced the winners of the (Australian) Victorian Premier's Literary Awards: Alan Atkinson's The Europeans in Australia: Volume Three: Nation was both the non-fiction category winner, as well as the Victorian Prize for Literature (i.e. overall/grand prize) winner; see, for example, The Australian's report, Alan Atkinson main winner at Victorian Premier's Literary Awards.

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6. 'Revisiting Raja Rao's fiction'

       Kanishk Tharoor's piece on 'Revisiting Raja Rao's fiction', India As Metaphysic ?, is now finally freely accessible at The Caravan.
       The focus is on the recently republished by Penguin India titles -- with Tharoor not equally enthusiastic about all of them: "How to describe the monumental tedium of The Serpent and the Rope ?" he wonders ..... Read the rest of this post

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7. FABRICS - minted

After hearing from Kimberly Hall about Minted fabrics I wondered what other designs they might have to offer and picked out a few P&P choices to showcase. Above is a cute design from Phrosné Ras and below stylish leaves by Oscar and Emma. You can see over 400 designs online here.  Above and below : Hannah cloud Above : Erika Firm and below : Cheer up Press. Below : five designs by

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8. Are the mysterious cycles of sunspots dangerous for us?

Galileo and some of his contemporaries left careful records of their telescopic observations of sunspots – dark patches on the surface of the sun, the largest of which can be larger than the whole earth. Then in 1844 a German apothecary reported the unexpected discovery that the number of sunspots seen on the sun waxes and wanes with a period of about 11 years.

Initially nobody considered sunspots as anything more than an odd curiosity. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, scientists started gathering more and more data that sunspots affect us in strange ways that seemed to defy all known laws of physics. In 1859 Richard Carrington, while watching a sunspot, accidentally saw a powerful explosion above it, which was followed a few hours later by a geomagnetic storm – a sudden change in the earth’s magnetic field. Such explosions – known as solar flares – occur more often around the peak of the sunspot cycle when there are many sunspots. One of the benign effects of a large flare is the beautiful aurora seen around the earth’s poles. However, flares can have other disastrous consequences. A large flare in 1989 caused a major electrical blackout in Quebec affecting six million people.

Interestingly, Carrington’s flare of 1859, the first flare observed by any human being, has remained the most powerful flare so far observed by anybody. It is estimated that this flare was three times as powerful as the 1989 flare that caused the Quebec blackout. The world was technologically a much less developed place in 1859. If a flare of the same strength as Carrington’s 1859 flare unleashes its full fury on the earth today, it will simply cause havoc – disrupting electrical networks, radio transmission, high-altitude air flights and satellites, various communication channels – with damages running into many billions of dollars.

There are two natural cycles – the day-night cycle and the cycle of seasons – around which many human activities are organized. As our society becomes technologically more advanced, the 11-year cycle of sunspots is emerging as the third most important cycle affecting our lives, although we have been aware of its existence for less than two centuries. We have more solar disturbances when this cycle is at its peak. For about a century after its discovery, the 11-year sunspot cycle was a complete mystery to scientists. Nobody had any clue as to why the sun has spots and why spots have this cycle of 11 years.

A first breakthrough came in 1908 when Hale found that sunspots are regions of strong magnetic field – about 5000 times stronger than the magnetic field around the earth’s magnetic poles. Incidentally, this was the first discovery of a magnetic field in an astronomical object and was eventually to revolutionize astronomy, with subsequent discoveries that nearly all astronomical objects have magnetic fields.  Hale’s discovery also made it clear that the 11-year sunspot cycle is the sun’s magnetic cycle.

Sunspot 1-20-11, by Jason Major. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

Matter inside the sun exists in the plasma state – often called the fourth state of matter – in which electrons break out of atoms. Major developments in plasma physics within the last few decades at last enabled us to systematically address the questions of why sunspots exist and what causes their 11-year cycle. In 1955 Eugene Parker theoretically proposed a plasma process known as the dynamo process capable of generating magnetic fields within astronomical objects. Parker also came up with the first theoretical model of the 11-year cycle. It is only within the last 10 years or so that it has been possible to build sufficiently realistic and detailed theoretical dynamo models of the 11-year sunspot cycle.

Until about half a century ago, scientists believed that our solar system basically consisted of empty space around the sun through which planets were moving. The sun is surrounded by a million-degree hot corona – much hotter than the sun’s surface with a temperature of ‘only’ about 6000 K. Eugene Parker, in another of his seminal papers in 1958, showed that this corona will drive a wind of hot plasma from the sun – the solar wind – to blow through the entire solar system.  Since the earth is immersed in this solar wind – and not surrounded by empty space as suspected earlier – the sun can affect the earth in complicated ways. Magnetic fields created by the dynamo process inside the sun can float up above the sun’s surface, producing beautiful magnetic arcades. By applying the basic principles of plasma physics, scientists have figured out that violent explosions can occur within these arcades, hurling huge chunks of plasma from the sun that can be carried to the earth by the solar wind.

The 11-year sunspot cycle is only approximately cyclic. Some cycles are stronger and some are weaker. Some are slightly longer than 11 years and some are shorter.  During the seventeenth century, several sunspot cycles went missing and sunspots were not seen for about 70 years. There is evidence that Europe went through an unusually cold spell during this epoch. Was this a coincidence or did the missing sunspots have something to do with the cold climate? There is increasing evidence that sunspots affect the earth’s climate, though we do not yet understand how this happens.

Can we predict the strength of a sunspot cycle before its onset? The sunspot minimum around 2006–2009 was the first sunspot minimum when sufficiently sophisticated theoretical dynamo models of the sunspot cycle existed and whether these models could predict the upcoming cycle correctly became a challenge for these young theoretical models. We are now at the peak of the present sunspot cycle and its strength agrees remarkably with what my students and I predicted in 2007 from our dynamo model. This is the first such successful prediction from a theoretical model in the history of our subject. But is it merely a lucky accident that our prediction has been successful this time? If our methodology is used to predict more sunspot cycles in the future, will this success be repeated?

Headline image credit: A spectacular coronal mass ejection, by Steve Jurvetson. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

The post Are the mysterious cycles of sunspots dangerous for us? appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Our first house

I’ve been thinking all day about what I wanted to write about. Nothing much came to mind. But, as I kissed my handsome man good bye for him to go help somebody move in, I realized I probably haven’t recorded my memories and thoughts about our first house. I started our family blog when my 7-year-old was about 9 months. We bought our first house when I was 7 months pregnant with him. In other words, it wasn’t on the blog, and I probably didn’t write about it in my journal.

So. Here we go. I remember feeling a bit shocked and spoiled that we were buying a house so early in our marriage. We were married August 22, 2006 and closed on our first house August 1, 2007- less than one year later. I did insist that we live in a nice little crumby apartment when we were first married, because “everybody has to have that experience as newlyweds!” And it was lovely. Located on 2nd East in Rexburg, just 2 blocks from campus; 300 square feet on the back of a house. It had a tiny hallway of a kitchen, and the smallest bathroom I’ve seen. The main room was wide open, but we tried to create a little bedroom privacy with the stand alone closet that was provided. It was perfect for us! I remember many nights after I got pregnant being so exhausted that I would go to bed at 7:00 while Brant watched sports. That was the only time we’ve ever had Cable TV because it was provided by our landlords. They were a nice old couple that lived in the main part of the house.

When Brant graduated from BYU-Idaho in May, 2007, he got a job in Idaho Falls. We were encouraged to buy a house because of the first-time home buyers incentive. We didn’t have any money for a down payment. But, we decided instead of throwing our money away to rent, we would buy and start to build equity. Looking back now, it might not have been the best move. But, that might be largely due to the recession and housing slump that hit shortly after we bought.

We drove around the area where Brant would teach, and decided against living there. It was scary, run down and not for us!

My dad wanted us to buy a house over on the West side of Idaho Falls, because he thought it had better resale value. (My parents came to look at a few houses with us. My dad owns many homes, and knew what he was doing… and happens to now be a real estate agent in St. George, UT.) But, we had found the right house for us!


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It was a beautiful little white house with a white picket fence on one side of the yard. 3 bedrooms, 1 bath. A nice living room, small kitchen, and a wood stove. Built on 1/4 acre with a great backyard and big trees, including fruit trees, chokecherry bushes, grapes, strawberries and gooseberries. It also had beautiful pink roses in the front yard.



I LOVED the kitchen when we first looked at the house! These pictures are from when we were trying to sell the house, and so they don’t show how small it really was. It was perfect when we moved in. But, by the time we moved out, we had three kids and had definitely outgrown the kitchen!


We LOVED the wood stove. The first winter we lived there, our baby wouldn’t sleep unless he was swaddled pretty tight. But, we were new at burning wood in the stove to heat the house, so it often got SO hot that we had to open many windows to cool it down enough for all of us to sleep. :)

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I won’t go into too many details about the basement remodel. Brant finished the rest of the basement while we lived there. It became a 5 bedroom, 2 bath home. He did a great job! (I think he made a blog about it on our family blog when he finished.) Here are pictures of each of the rooms. Not exactly the way I remember them, since we actually lived in the house. But, There are pictures on our family blog, of us living in the house, because I did blog for most of those years.

Basement 006Basement 007Basement 008IMG_5022IMG_5975IMG_5978

The owners we bought from had a $1000 carpet allowance as part of their selling point. We decided to offer a bit less and take that out. That was a mistake. This is the pictures of the new carpet that we bought, just before we moved out! :( We dealt with the nasty “white” carpet the whole time we lived there. We paid $124,000 for the house, which included closing costs and everything.


I painted this bedroom a couple months before Caleb was born!


The day we moved in, like I said, I was 7 months pregnant. The only thing I was allowed to carry was a pillow. ;) Brant moved almost everything by himself, and had help only for the washer and dryer. We didn’t own a couch. I think all we had was our queen sized bed, a glider rocking chair and a few boxes, really. It’s funny how quickly you fill up the space you have though!

All in all. I loved this house. We still own it and rent it out. This summer we had to go through and really clean it and it was so sad to see the way the renters had left it. Disgusting!

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10. Guest Post and Giveaway: Rachel Lacey, Author of For Keeps

I was able to chat with Rachel Lacey, and she answered the question below.  Check out her response, and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

TJ is planning the perfect dinner date to woo Merry – What are the Top 5 items on the menu?

Ooh, great question! There is a scene in FOR KEEPS where TJ plans to woo Merry with a romantic home-cooked meal, but it never quite happens. Here’s my chance to decide what was on the menu that night…

1. Merry spends more time taking care of others than herself, so TJ would want to make this dinner really special for her. He’d start them off with some strawberries and other fruit to dip. Strawberries are an aphrodisiac, and they’re just fun to feed to each other :)

2. Of course they’d need a glass (or two) of champagne to go with the fruit.

3. Merry’s not big on health food – especially not on a night like this – so he’d skip the salad and serve a baked brie in puff pastry instead.

4. For the entree, he’d grill steak and lobster tails. TJ’s not much of a chef, but he knows his way around a grill, and this would be sure to fill them up after a long day on the farm. He might even make a joke about the lobsters being crawfish just to make her laugh (you’ll have to read FOR KEEPS to find out why!) :)

5. Merry loves chocolate, so after stuffing themselves on surf and turf, TJ would finish off the night with a nice, light chocolate mousse.




Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue – even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It’s hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children’s camp where she’s just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry’s style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay. TJ Jameson isn’t looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family’s ranch with a wife and kids. “No-strings” Merry Atwater doesn’t fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ’s a goner. If he doesn’t give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .

About Rachel Lacey:

Rachel Lacey lives in North Carolina, with her husband, son, and their own rescued pup. She volunteers her spare time with Carolina Boxer Rescue and truly has a passion for helping our furry friends. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her local Heart of Carolina RWA chapter.

Rachel’s SM:





Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1xkN5pc

BAM – http://bit.ly/17E21Kv

B&N – http://bit.ly/1AWAKPw

IndieBound – http://bit.ly/1AWAH6a

GooglePlay – http://bit.ly/1u3e1JX

iTunes – http://bit.ly/1u27ViN

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1CeOF0t



His expression heated until his eyes practically burned her.

She nibbled her bottom lip. “I should, uh, I should go.”

“It’s late,” he said, his voice like gravel. It tickled all her sweet spots.

She stared at his hands, those big calloused fingers. Damn, but she wanted to feel them on her skin. Like, now.

“Really late.” She took a step, but her feet accidentally carried her toward T.J., not the door.

He sucked in an audible breath, his eyes scorching hers. “I thought you were going.”

“So did I.” But fuck it. If she was going to be in his house in the middle of the night in her underwear, she might as well give him a kiss goodnight.

She’d never been known for her self-control, after all.

He watched her, not moving a muscle, as if he’d become rooted to the floor.

She put her palms on his biceps and pressed her lips to his. Just a quick kiss to test the waters, because they did have to work together for the next month.

His scent wrapped around her, filled her lungs, and stole her sanity. She lingered for a moment, her lips on his, so soft, so warm. Just enough to make her want more. So much more.

Her body pulsed with it.

She was about to pull back and tell him goodnight when his arms slid around her waist, securing her against the firm column of his body, and oh God, she was a goner.

“What was that?” he whispered against her lips.

She slid her hands up to encircle his neck. “A goodnight kiss.”

“And why would you do something like that?” His voice vibrated through her.

“Because I wanted to.” Their bodies were pressed together, and though he hadn’t kissed her back, he wanted to. She felt the evidence pressed against her belly.

“Bad idea,” he growled, his lips still touching hers, teasing, tempting.

“Oh, yeah?” She could hardly breathe. Every nerve tingled with awareness, desperate for his touch, his kiss. More. More of everything.

Her heart throbbed in her chest.

T.J.’s eyes smoldered into hers, his pupils blown with lust. His body vibrated with tension, his arms like steel bands around her. “Yeah.”

“Then send me home.” She wiggled in his arms, pressing into his erection, tempting him, willing him to kiss her back. Just for tonight.

She needed to be kissed. She needed to feel.

And he could make her…

His lips crushed hers, taking her so suddenly, so thoroughly, that she didn’t have time to draw a breath. She heard herself groan, felt the desire inside her explode into something so completely out of control it almost frightened her.

Her back slammed into the wall, and her legs wrapped around his waist. His tongue plunged into her mouth, gliding against hers in a rhythm so perfect she shuddered in his arms. He lifted her hips, grinding himself against her until her eyes rolled back in her head, and…

Holy shit, holy shit.

She must have lost her mind. Her body burned, quaked, shook for him, and he felt so fucking good. He tasted like sin, sweet and sexy, like leather and cowboy boots, and…

Holy shit.

She needed more. She needed everything. She needed him buried deep inside her, groaning her name as he drove her over the edge, as he came inside her, and…

Holy shit.

This was completely out of control.

“Holy shit.” The words came from T.J.’s lips, not her own, as he tore his mouth from hers and speared her with his gaze. He panted for breath, his body coiled against hers, so hard, so ready. She felt every inch of him still pressed between her legs, right where her body burned hottest for him. “What the hell was that?”

She laughed. “If you don’t know, then you’re more out of practice than I am.”

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Rachel Lacey, Author of For Keeps appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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11. Not a Landscape but...3/5 Art Challenge on PBAA

Okay, so I'll post some work from old to new.  Day 1 - Some work from early in my career.

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12. DESIGNER - kimberly ellen hall

Kimberly Ellen Hall is the designer behind the studio label Nottene (pronounced [nuh-ten-uh]) which a Norwegian word that means nuts. Kimberly studied Textiles at Central St Martins in London, but is now based in Philadelphia. Her clients have included Anthology Magazine, and the Denver Art Museum. Kimberly's latest design is Koselis Glasses which she has made available as a fabric through

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13. If This Had Happened This Week, We Wouldn't Have Been Dancing In The Road

John Rocco has a picture book out called Blizzard that's been getting a lot of attention the last couple of months. It would have been terrific if I read that this past week and could write about it now after the events of the last couple of days here in New England. Yeah, well, that didn't happen.

I did pick up Rocco's earlier book, Blackout, from the library a while back. It would have been terrific if we'd had a power outage this week, a threat that was hanging over our heads this past weekend, and could write about it after reading Blackout. Yeah, well, that didn't happen, either.

But I'm still going to tell you about Blackout because it is beautiful. I am not the only person who thinks so, because it was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2012. It is beautiful looking with a lovely, simple story of people having a great time when the lights go out. That simple story is told without a lot of text, something that doesn't happen as often as you'd think with picture books.

By the way, Rocco also illustrated How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton, which happens to be a big hit with a member of my family.

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14. Hey Mum, I did it

A dream came true yesterday. An ambition. I sold a story to Black Static, a magazine I've been trying to get into since before it existed (those who've been around the small press for a while will remember its previous incarnation The Third Alternative). At a rough estimate it took me about eighteen years. Hopefully it won't take me more than a decade to sell another story to them.*
The Drop of Light and the Rise of Dark is my first completed story this year.

In extra good news. Damien Angelica Walters also had a story accepted there yesterday.

*Resists sending another story to Andy today.

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15. A little painting.

A little painting.

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16. merely players

Speak Easy Mag is a (fairly) new online journal, and they’re awesome, and they just published a personal essay I wrote last summer about acting and theater, but/and/also the ephemeral nature of everything, of which theater is just an amplified microcosm. We have our exits and our entrances. It goes on, until it doesn't. Things are there. Until they're not.

(perfect gorgeous illustration by Rachel Wheeler)

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17. Mehcad Brooks is your new Jimmy Olsen in Supergirl

mehcad brooks Mehcad Brooks is your new Jimmy Olsen in Supergirl

When Melissa Benoist was cast as Supergirl last week for the CBS upcoming superhero drama of the same name, I had a feeling the Jimmy Olsen announcement could only be a few days away, given that the auditions for both roles were held pretty closely together.

Like magic, we now have a new Jimmy Olsen! Mehcad Brooks (Desperate Housewives, True Blood) will be playing everyone’s favorite Daily Planet photographer/giant turtle-based superhero. Actually, the latter probably won’t happen sadly, but Brooks will surely have a camera in hand at some point.

The Supergirl iteration of Jimmy is described as “a smart worldly photographer for CatCo, the media company where Kara works. He had previously been working and living in National City for mysterious reasons, and his salt of the earth nature piques Kara’s interest”.

I’m not totally up on my Supergirl lore, but National City doesn’t ring any of my DC Comics bells (other than being the former name of the company). I assume its something created specifically for the new series.

There are a number of roles still to be cast, including: Cat Grant, Hank Henshaw – the Supergirl obsessed director of the Department of Extra-normal Operations, Kara’s CatCo colleague Wynn Schott, and Kara’s sister Alex.


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18. Agent Danielle Burby of HSG on Women with Swords and More

Danielle graduated from Hamilton College with honors and a double major in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  Before finding her home at HSG, she interned at Writers House, Clarion Books, Faye Bender Literary Agency, Dunow Carlson and Lerner, John Wiley and Sons, and SquareOne Publishers (along with stints as a waitress and a farmers’ market vendor).

Her passion lies in YA, Women’s Fiction, and mysteries. She gravitates toward stories with a strong voice and particularly enjoys complex female characters, narratives that explore social issues, and coming-of-age stories. Genres that appeal to her include contemporary YA, medieval fantasy, historical fiction, cozy mysteries, and upmarket Women’s Fiction. She finds it hard to resist gorgeous writing and is a sucker for romantic plotlines that are an element of the narrative, but don’t dominate it.

Danielle was involved in way too many singing groups in college and is always up for karaoke. She also enjoys both tea and coffee, managing to defy the naysayers who claim they’re an either-or thing. She is, however, distinctly a chocolate person. You can follow her on twitter at @danielleburby.

1. What are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?
Growing up, a favorite author of mine was Tamora Pierce and I would love love love to represent a similar author. The best Tamora Pierce series is, in my opinion, the Protector of the Small quartet. Kristin Cashore is another author I adore--Graceling is my favorite of her novels. Medieval-style fantasy with a female protagonist is definitely a weakness of mine--give her a sword and a heroic quest and I melt. Another novel that evokes real nostalgia for me is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Yes, there's a definite theme here. I'm also an enormous Jane Austen fan. I love her witty and cutting insights into human nature, as well as her brilliant characters. I'm also a huge Sarah Dessen fan. I will read anything and everything that she writes because her voice is just so incredibly magnetic and she infuses real depth into the most simple things. An adult author I cannot stop reading is Liane Moriarty because she is so clever, her characters are brilliant, and her writing makes me laugh. Recent favorites include The Cuckoos Calling, We Were Liars, The Husband's Secret, Lies We Tell Ourselves, Before I Fall,  Brown Girl Dreaming, Big Little Lies, All Our Yesterdays, and Fangirl. My favorite author of all time is Virginia Woolf. I'm definitely a girl's girl when it comes to my taste in literature.  
2. What are some things you love to see in a query?

When I'm reading queries, I immediately sit up and take notice when the introduction shows that an author has done her or his research and is reaching out to me for a specific reason. I like to know why someone thinks we'd make a good fit. A snappy and compelling description of the book is also a must! When authors ask for advice on how to write that section of a query letter, I always recommend taking a look at the jacket copy of published novels and using that technique as a model. If that section of the query letter is done well, it can give me a sense of the author's voice, in addition to a feel for the plot, characters, and atmosphere. That said, I don't want to see a full synopsis! One or two paragraphs about the project should give me the information that I need.
3. Are you an editorial agent?

I am incredibly hands-on when it comes to editing my client's manuscripts to get them ready for submission. Editors expect increasingly high-quality and polished projects--especially from debut authors--so I believe it is an essential part of my job to help my clients edit manuscripts on the big picture level (plot, character development, pacing, etc.). I'll never send out a submission until the author and I both feel confident that the manuscript is as strong as we can make it. After the project sells, I keep an eye on the editorial process, but let the author and editor work things out unless I'm needed. Editing is actually one of my favorite parts of the job and is the best way for me to get a sense of my clients, both as artists and of their long-term career goals, which helps me to advise them. The editing process also helps me learn about what kind of communication each individual client needs from me.
4. What do you like to do for fun?
I like to spend time in nature--hiking is a lot of fun. I enjoy seeing theater and taking advantage of NYC specific things like Shake Shack and walking around Central Park. I'm always looking for new recipes to cook. I go to coffee shops with friends as often as I can. One of my favorite ways to relax is to spend hours teaching myself songs on my keyboard, but I have to be pretty sure that nobody will hear me! 

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19. YMA Favorites

When you’re reading this, a lot of us will be heading or preparing to head to Chicago for ALA Midwinter. There are many things to be excited about during Midwinter–meetings, exhibits, seeing friends.

But not a lot actually meets the level of excitement, that the Youth Media Awards. This will be my first YMAs in person! I’m so jazzed. So I thought I’d take a moment and reflect on my favorite winners of past YMAs. Honestly, I could go on for pages and pages about this, but I’ll just do a quick overview because y’all are packing or flying.  My very favorites of the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, and Printz Award Winners:

I know this is everyone’s favorite, but it’s totally mine. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It won the 1963 Caldecott award. This book was written over 20 years before I was born, but I adored it as a child. I remember asking my mom to read it to me over and over and over again. And it holds up. I use this one in storytimes often, and I’m lucky enough to live near the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi and have seen some of the original art. It’s as gorgeous as you think it is.

The View From Saturday by E.L. Konisburg won the Newbery Medal in 1997. This is one that I was wild about as a child. I was 9 years old when this book came out, and I was part of a program in my school that was similar to the Academic Bowl Team. Well, not entirely similar. But it felt similar. My fourth-grade self resonated with this one DEEPLY. I actually have not read this one as an adult. A part of me is terrified that it won’t hold up. But it will, right? Because Konigsburg? This is the first time in my life I remember being aware that the Newbery medal is something that was actually awarded, and that the seal didn’t just magically appear on books in my school library. I remember my school librarian telling us that this book had won and being very excited because I had read it and loved it so much. Maybe it’s time for a reread?


The Printz Award is a little different. It’s a much newer award. The first Printz was awarded in 2000. I wasn’t really aware of the existence of the Printz until college library school, but I quickly became obsessed. I actually wrote my master’s project on the Printz. In doing so, I read many Printz and Printz Honor titles. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, the 2009 winner, is my favorite, and continues to be my favorite Young Adult title of all time. I understand that my approach to this book was different. I was an adult the first time I read it, upon the recommendation of a colleague at my library, unlike the other two titles, which I came to as a child. But this book, like the other two, changed me and stayed with me. Marchetta is now one of my favorite authors. I’m fond of telling friends that if she wrote ingredients lists on the side of cereal boxes, I’d have them shipped over from Australia to read.

That’s the thing I love about award winners, and all books. Remember this when you’re putting award seals on books next week and when you’re teaching classes about the Caldecott and Newbery and when you’re excitedly handing your tweens and teens the Printz Honor book you’ll know they love: these are the books that will stay with them forever. And we get to be a tiny part of that.

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with kids ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

The post YMA Favorites appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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20. NCTE Book Awards

NCTE announced its book awards this week.  I love both of the lists.  I've always loved the Orbis Pictus Award. I've watched it for years and have discovered so many amazing nonfiction books through this award and list each year. This year, I had read many books on the award list, but have several that I'll add to my TBR stack.  

This year, I was part of the Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children committee. It is an honor to be part of this committee during its first years. I never had the opportunity to study under Charlotte Huck at Ohio State but I feel that I learned from her through her writing and through others I knew who knew her. What a legacy! And I so love the premise of the new Charlotte Huck Award.  From the NCTE website, "The award commemorates the work of educator Charlotte Huck and her focus on the importance of bringing books and children together in significant ways. " It goes on to discuss the criteria--below is the first bullet.
  • Fiction for children that has the potential to transform children’s lives
    • Fiction that invites compassion, imagination, and wonder
    • Fiction that connects children to their own humanity and offers them a rich experience with the power to influence their lives
    • Fiction that stretches children’s thinking, feelings, and imagination
Isn't this what children's literature is all about? Isn't this what matters?

The experience I had on the committee, learning from so many amazing people, thinking about this award was incredible. Definitely a great way to start 2015. If you have not seen the award list, you can find it here.

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21. Aim Higher: Some Tools For Mid Year Assessments

At the end of this week, the  second marking period will officially come to an end for many of us, and so will the first half of our school year.  This is the… Continue reading

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22. Catalogging Consortium

Lots of great titles from lots of great small press publishers in the 2015 Consortium catalog - here are the ones that caught my eye with some catalog copy to describe them:

Three Kinds of Motion: Kerouac, Pollock and the Making of the American Highways by Riley Hanick (Sarabande Books). In 1943, Peggy Guggenheim commissioned a mural from Jackson Pollock to hang in the entryway of her Manhattan townhouse. It was the largest Pollock canvas she would ever own, and four years later she gave it to a small Midwestern institution with no place to put it. When the original scroll of On the Road goes on tour across the country, it lands at the same Iowa museum housing Peggy's Pollock, revitalizing Riley Hanick's adolescent fascination with the author. Alongside these two narrative threads, Hanick revisits Dwight D. Eisenhower's quest to build America's first interstate highway system. When catastrophic rains flood the Iowa highways with their famous allure and history of conquest, they also threaten the museum and its precious mural. In Three Kinds of Motion, his razor-sharp, funny, and intensely vulnerable book-length essay, Hanick moves deftly between his three subjects. He delivers a story with breathtaking ingenuity.

The Shark That Walks on Land....and Other Strange But True Tales of Mysterious Sea Creatures by Michael Bright (Biteback Publishing). When you dive into the sea, do you ever wonder what's down there, beneath you, poised to take an inquisitive bite? Author of Jaws Peter Benchley and film director Steven Spielberg certainly did, for below the waves lies a world we neither see nor understand; an alien world where we are but the briefest of visitors. The Shark that Walks on Land uncovers tales of ancient and modern mariners, with stories of sea serpents, mermaids and mermen, sea dragons, and the true identity of the legendary Kraken. But this book contains more than just a medley of maritime myths and mysteries for marine biologists; it celebrates wonderful discoveries by blending the unknown and the familiar in an entertaining miscellany of facts, figures, and anecdotes about the myriad creatures that inhabit the oceans. Along the way we meet the giants, the most dangerous, the oddballs, and the record breakers; and the shark that really does walk on land!

Enormous Smallness: The Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess, Illus by Kris Di Giacomo (Enchanted Lion Books). Here E.E.'s life is presented in a way that will make children curious about him and will lead them to play with words and ask plenty of questions as well. Lively and informative, the book also presents some of Cummings's most wonderful poems, integrating them seamlessly into the story to give the reader the music of his voice and a spirited, sensitive introduction to his poetry.

In keeping with the epigraph of the book -- "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are," Matthew Burgess's narrative emphasizes the bravery it takes to follow one's own vision and the encouragement E.E. received to do just that.

Mischief and Malice
by Berthe Amos (Lizzie Skurnick Books).
Set in New Orleans, Louisiana, on the eve of World War II, Mischief and Malice is a brand new work from an iconic figure in young adult literature. Following the death of her Aunt Eveline, fourteen-year old Addie; who we first met in Berthe Amoss's classic Secret Lives; is now living with her Aunt Tooise, Uncle Henry, and her longtime rival cousin, Sandra Lee. A new family has just moved into Addie's former house, including a young girl who is just Addie's age. Meanwhile, Louis, the father of Tom, Addie's lifelong neighbor and best friend, suddenly returns after having disappeared when Tom was a baby. Between school dances, organizing a Christmas play, fretting about her hair, and a blossoming romance with Tom, Addie stumbles upon a mystery buried in the Great Catch All, an ancient giant armoire filled with heirlooms of her family's past, which holds a devastating secret that could destroy Louis and Tom's lives. Once again, Berthe Amoss has created an indelible portrait of a young girl coming of age in prewar New Orleans.

The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim (Text Publishing Company). Avicenna Crowe's mother is missing.

The police suspect foul play. Joanne is an astrologer, predicting strangers' futures from their star charts. Maybe one of her clients had a bad reading?

But Avicenna has inherited the gift. Armed with Joanne's journal, she begins her own investigation that leads into the city's dark underworld. The clock is ticking, and as each clue unravels Avicenna finds her life ever more in danger.

The Keeper's Daughter
by Jean-Francois Caron, Translated by Don Wilson (Talonbooks)
. Young Dorothea is appointed by the tourist bureau to direct a documentary film re-enacting life at a lighthouse off Quebec's North Shore in the 1940s and '50s. To obtain material for the film, she is advised to interview an old woman, Rose Brouillard, the daughter of a fisherman who grew up on a nearby island in the St. Lawrence. Rose is finally tracked down in Montreal. She is now old: her memory and grasp of reality are hazy; nevertheless she tells her story and takes Dorothea back to scenes from her childhood. We see fishermen on the docks with their nets, hard-at-work villagers with shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbow, leafy gardens and tree-lined streets, all recreated from Rose's failing memory. The problem is that many of these scenes are invented, not real. Does that matter? Or are the stories we tell more important?

(This one is listed as "Finding Rose" in the catalog but "The Keeper's Daughter" at the publisher and online booksellers - not sure what it really is, though.)

Load Poems Like Guns: Women's Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan compiled & translated by Farzana Marie (Holy Cow! Press). A groundbreaking collection of poetry by eight contemporary Afghan women poets in English translation en face with the original Persian Dari text. These poets live in Herat, the ancient epicenter of literature and the arts.

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (Gallic Books). Bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street and feels impelled to return it to its owner.

The bag contains no money, phone or contact information. But a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet.

Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

The Little Free Library Book by Margret Aldrich (Coffee House Press). Take a book. Return a book." In 2009, Todd Bol built the first Little Free Library as a memorial to his mom. Five years later, this simple idea to promote literacy and encourage community has become a movement. Little Free Libraries; freestanding front-yard book exchanges; now number twenty thousand in seventy countries. The Little Free Library Book tells the history of these charming libraries, gathers quirky and poignant firsthand stories from owners, provides a resource guide for how to best use your Little Free Library, and delights readers with color images of the most creative and inspired LFLs around.

Fanny Says by Nickole Brown (BOA Editions, Ltd). In this "unleashed love song" to her late grandmother, Nickole Brown brings her brassy, bawdy, tough-as-new-rope grandmother to life. With hair teased to Jesus, glued-on false eyelashes, and a white Cadillac Eldorado with atomic-red leather seats, Fanny isn't your typical granny in a rocking chair. Instead, think of a character that looks a lot like Eva Gabor in Green Acres, but tinted with a shadow of Sylvia Plath.

Chernobyl Strawberries by Vesna Goldsworthy (Wilmington Square Books). How would you make sense of your life if you thought it might end tomorrow? In this captivating and best-selling memoir, Vesna Goldsworthy tells the story of herself, her family, and her early life in her lost country. There follows marriage, a move to England, and a successful media and academic career, then a cancer diagnosis and its unresolved consequences. A profoundly moving, comic, and original account by a stunning literary talent.

The Surfacing by Cormac James (Bellevue Literary Press). Far from civilization, on the hunt for Sir John Franklins recently lost Northwest Passage expedition, Lieutenant Morgan and his crew find themselves trapped in ever-hardening Arctic ice that threatens to break apart their ship. When Morgan realizes that a stowaway will give birth to his child in the frozen wilderness, he finds new clarity and courage to lead his men across a bleak expanse as shifting, stubborn, and treacherous as human nature itself.

Well Fed, Flat Broke by Emily Wright (Arsenal Pulp Press). This collection of 120 recipes ranges from the simple (perfect scrambled eggs, rice and lentils) to the sublime (Orecchiette with White Beans and Sausage, Mustard-fried Chicken). Chapters are organized by ingredient so that you can easily build a meal from what you have on hand. Well Fed, Flat Broke has flavours to please every palette including Thai, Dutch, Indonesian, and Latin American-inspired recipes such as Kimchi Pancakes, Salvadoran Roast Chicken, and Pantry Kedgeree, reflecting a diverse array of affordable ingredients and products in grocery stores, markets, and delis.

Emily is a working mother and wife who lives with a picky toddler in one of Canada's most expensive cities. She offers readers real-talk about food, strategic shopping tips, sound advice for picky eaters, and suggestions on how to build a well-stocked, yet inexpensive pantry. Cooking every night can be challenging for busy families who are short on time and lean in budget; Emily includes plenty of one-pot dishes to keep everyone healthy, full, and happy.

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23. The Unknown Unknown – Anna Wilson

At Christmas I was browsing in a bookshop for ideas for a present for my husband, and I came across a pamphlet entitled The Unknown Unknown by Mark Forsyth. I, of course, read it before I gave it to my husband – what is the point of buying books for people for Christmas if you can’t enjoy reading them yourself before wrapping them?

Forsyth’s essay is based on the premise famously set by Donald Rumsfeld, the American Secretary of Defense during George W Bush’s administration. He stated that:

“There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is that say that there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.”

Forsyth goes on to say that this applies perfectly to reading:

“I know that I’ve read Great Expectations: it’s a known known. I know that I haven’t read War and Peace: it is a known unknown to me [. . .] But there are also books that I’ve never heard of; and, because I’ve never heard of them, I’ve no idea that I haven’t read them.”

It was while running workshops in schools last week that I saw that writing, too, is an unknown unknown, because writing is, of course, an exploration, a foray into the unknown: an expedition without a map. We write stories we had no idea existed until we come to write them.

This is particularly true, I feel, when working with children who believe they are not natural storytellers. This might be because they have not had much success in writing stories in school, or because they don’t enjoy writing, or perhaps because they feel hindered by language barriers, for example. They panic at the sight of the blank page: this is where workshops can be so beneficial in unlocking stories, in demystifying the unknown unknown.

Last week I was leading workshops with children of all ages, nationalities and language abilities in schools in Istanbul. We were exploring such ideas as “how to build a character” and “how to get started on a story”. The children all came with a blank sheet of paper, knowing nothing about how they would spend the next 40 minutes. As I waited for everyone to settle down, some children told me that they were not good at stories and that they had no ideas. I told them not to worry and assured them that with a couple of prompts, they would soon be fizzing with stories. But really, I too had no idea what would happen. Maybe the children would go away with their paper still blank. Maybe they would be paralyzed by nerves or fear or a simple lack of vocabulary, as many of them had English as a second, third or even fourth language.

We started one workshop by looking at a collection of random objects I had brought with me, which included, amongst other things, a badger’s skull, a necklace, a set of old keys, an asthma inhaler and an iPhone box. I encouraged the children to choose a couple of objects and think who might own them, what they might do with them, where they might have found them or from whom they might have received them. Within minutes I had children telling me stories about evil mermaids who used the inhaler to make humans breathe underwater so that they could be lured to the mermaids’ cave; people who were drawn into an iPhone app and transported to another world; an old professor who collected skulls and who discovered that one skull, when he touched it, allowed him to travel in time. Soon the children were scribbling away, either having a go at forming sentences or making mind-maps or drawing comic strips of their stories.

Not one single child knew they had those ideas in them before they came to the workshop, just as I have never truly known how any of my books is going to work out until I sit down to write it. I have encountered characters that have reared up from the darkest corners of my imagination and often wondered, ‘Where did youspring from?’ and have found ways of resolving plots that I did not have in mind when I first sat down to write.

Writing is a series of unknown unknowns; it is, as Joseph Conrad says about a blank space on a map, “a white patch for a boy [girl] to dream gloriously over”.

The blank page can of course instill fear, and conjures up that dreaded phrase, “writer’s block”, but for as long as I can see it as that “white patch”, it will continue to hold sway with its magic over me.

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24. DESIGNER - anisa makhoul

Anisa Makhoul graduated from the  Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a degree in Printmaking and went on to form her own clothing label, Makool. During the next 10 years Anisa had her own shop in Portland Oregon where she designed and screen printed clothing and fabric. She also designed for multiple celebrities. After taking time out to have a baby Anisa moved to Amsterdam where she

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25. Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington

Continuing on my quest to find books for my soon to be nine-year old niece, I read Karen Harrington's Sure Signs of Crazy last week. While I enjoyed the book a lot and recommend it for the over ten crowd, I think I'm going to hold off my girl until she's a wee bit older.

Protagonist Sarah is 12 and new in town. She and her father move around a lot as Sarah's mother was the object of a notorious trial and is now committed to a mental hospital. Her father was also tried but found innocent; he still struggles a decade later to cope and while a loving father, definitely self-medicates with alcohol.

In the course of one summer, Sarah fulfills an English assignment by writing letters to Atticus Finch, crushes on the college boy across the street (we've all been there) and builds up her courage to challenge the family secrets. She's smart and funny and determined which makes for a great protagonist. Most interestingly though, considering her family drama, Sarah is also very easy to identify with and I'm sure many young readers will like her a lot.

For my purposes though, I think the alcohol and the reasons behind her mother's trial, are just too much for my particular nine-year old. At least a year, maybe two and she will be ready. I'll be keeping Sure Signs of Crazy for the future.

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