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Which Nordic state had sovereignty over Iceland until 1918? Which state was allowed to discriminate against a transgender woman by annulling her marriage? Who disputed ownership of Eastern Greenland before the Permanent Court of International Justice? In preparation for the European Society of International Law's 11th annual conference, this year held in Oslo, test your knowledge of Nordic countries in international law with our quiz.
Last year was my second year in 3rd grade. It took me a while to figure out the kinds of books that would best support 3rd grade readers. It took me a while to learn what kinds of books hooked 3rd graders. It took me a while to catch up on series books that were a good match for third graders. By the end of last year, I felt that my classroom library was solid. I had lots of great picture books, some lots of great nonfiction, good graphic novels and many series that could hook readers. But I am always looking for new books. Books for 3rd graders are not so long so kids tend to read through a book or two a week. And I believe in choice so I need to give kids a menu of options every day as reader. So keeping the library updates is always important.
Here are some of the new series that I'll add to the classroom library this year. I'll get a few in the series to see how kids like them and then add to the basket if they are a hit.
In the late eighteenth century, against a troubled background of violent change on the continent and rising challenges to the Establishment at home, botanists were discovering strange creatures that defied the categories of ‘animal, vegetable, and mineral’.
This morning I have am excerpt and giveaway for Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes, as well as guest post from Grace!
Message From the Author
What makes a man a gentleman?
For a romance writer, this question has to be answered in every book, because implicit in the term “hero” is something of the gentleman. Heroes need not be charming, handsome or wealthy, and they might not even be obviously heroic, at least at the start of the book, but they have to be worthy of our loyalty for the duration of an entire book.
In the True Gentlemen series, I took three men who’d wandered across my pages in previous stories—Tremaine St. Michael, Daniel Banks, and Willow Dorning—and found them each a happily ever after. Tremaine is a flinty business man, Daniel is poor and pious, Willow finds polite society an enormous trial and would far rather be with his dogs. These fellows were not obvious choices as romance heroes, but they each had something that tempted me to write stories for them.
When we met Tremaine in an earlier book (Gabriel: Lord of Regrets), Tremaine was convinced that he’d found a good candidate for the position of wife. He offered marriage, listing all the practical advantages to both parties, and he congratulated himself on how much sense his proposed union would make.
The lady turned him down flat, and as a gentleman is bound to do, he graciously ceded the field. He didn’t like it, he didn’t entirely understand how or what he’d lost, but he wished the happy couple well.
Daniel’s role in David: Lord of Honor was to charge to London with sermons at the ready in an attempt to restore his sister’s honor. The very man Daniel accused of wronging that sister had already set her back on the path to respectability.
Oops. But again, being a gentleman, Daniel wishes the couple every happiness, even if doing so costs him the future he’d envisioned for himself and his loved ones. Like Tremaine, he’s a gracious and even dignified loser.
Willow’s appearance in Worth: Lord of Reckoning is brief, but he too is determined to see a sister rescued from a possibly compromising position, and again, rescue is simply not on the heroine’s agenda.
In all three cases, the true gentleman acts in the best interests of those he loves and is responsible for, regardless of the inconvenience or cost to himself. Because Tremaine, Daniel, and Willow were honorable, I liked them. I trusted them, I wanted them to have the happiness they clearly already deserved.
In the Nicholas Haddonfield’s sisters—Nita, Kirsten, and Susannah—I found ladies willing to oblige my ambitions for these men. In each case, our hero has lessons yet to learn, and in each case, his inherent honor wins the day. He might not be handsome, wealthy, or charming in the eyes of the world, but because he’s a true gentleman in the eyes of his lady, he wins her true love.
I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them!
Excerpt – Tremaine’s True Love
Wealthy businessman Tremaine St. Michael has concluded that marriage to Lady Nita Haddonfield would be a prudent merger of complimentary interests for the mutual benefit and enjoyment of both parties… or some such blather.
Tremaine rapped on Lady Nita’s door, quietly, despite a light shining from beneath it. Somebody murmured something which he took for permission to enter.
“Mr. St. Michael?”
Tremaine stepped into her ladyship’s room, closed the door behind him and locked it, which brought the total of his impossibly forward behaviors to several thousand.
“Your ladyship expected a sister, or a maid with a pail of coal?”
“I wasn’t expecting you.” Lady Nita sat near the hearth in a blue velvet dressing gown. The wool stockings on her feet were thick enough to make a drover covetous. “Are you unwell, Mr. St. Michael?”
“You are not pleased to see me.” Did she think illness the only reason somebody would seek her out?
She set aside some pamphlet, a medical treatise, no doubt. No vapid novels for Lady Nita.
“I was not expecting you, sir.”
“You were not expecting me to discuss marriage with you earlier. I wasn’t expecting the topic to come up in a casual fashion either. May I sit?”
She waved an elegant hand at the other chair flanking the hearth. Tremaine settled in, trying to gather his thoughts while the firelight turned Lady Nita’s braid into a rope of burnished gold.
“You are pretty.” Brilliant place to start. The words had come out, heavily burred, something of an ongoing revelation.
“I am tall and blond,” she retorted, twitching the folds her of her robe. “I have the usual assortment of parts. What did you come here to discuss?”
Lady Nita was right, in a sense. Her beauty was not of the ballroom variety, but rather, an illumination of her features by characteristics unseen. She fretted over new babies, cut up potatoes like any crofter’s wife, and worried for her sisters. These attributes interested Tremaine. Her madonna-with-a-secret smile, keen intellect, and longing for laughter attracted him.
Even her medical pre-occupation, in its place, had some utility as well.
“Will you marry me, my lady?”
More brilliance. Where had his wits gone? George Haddonfield had graciously pointed out that Nita needed repose and laughter, and Tremaine was offering her the hand of the most restless and un-silly man in the realm.
The lady somehow contained her incredulity, staring at her hands. “You want to discuss marriage?”
“I believe I did just open that topic. Allow me to elaborate on my thesis: Lady Bernita Haddonfield, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? I think we would suit, and I can promise you would know no want in my care.”
A proper swain would have been on his damn bended knee, the lady’s hand in his. Lady Nita would probably laugh herself to tears if Tremaine attempted that nonsense. Lady Nita picked up her pamphlet, which Tremaine could now see was written in German.
“Why, Mr. St. Michael?”
“I beg your pardon?” Tremaine was about to pitch the damned pamphlet in the fire, until he recalled that Nita Haddonfield excelled at obscuring her stronger emotions.
“Why should you marry me, Tremaine St. Michael? Why should I marry you? I’ve had other offers, you’ve made other offers. You haven’t known me long enough to form an opinion of my character beyond the superficial.”
This ability to take a situation apart, into causes, effects, symptoms, and prognosis was part of the reason she was successful as a healer. Tremaine applied the same tendencies to commercial situations, so he didn’t dismiss her questions as coyness or manipulation.
She wasn’t rejecting him either. She most assuredly was not rejecting him.
Title: Tremaine’s True Love
Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance
He’s had everything he could ever want…until now
Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.
Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren’t for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita’s heart.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’ bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish and Lady Eve’s Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
Whether things are going really well for your illustration business, or really wrong, it’s always a good time to take a look at what you might need to change.
Finding the Weakest Links in Your Business
First I’d like to suggest zooming in a little closer on just the “problems”. Try and figure out what might be standing between you and the success you envision for yourself.
What might you be doing wrong?
What isn’t producing the desired results?
Is anything draining your time and money without offering something in return?
What is stunting your growth as a professional artist?
Once you discover the things that are dragging you down, you can choose to either remove them or make plans fix them, as needed. This may mean anything from making changes to your schedule, revising your promotional strategy, or upgrading your portfolio. Whatever the issue, it can be very useful to single it out, separate it from the pack, and make some strategic decisions about how to make a change for the better.
Identifying “problem areas” of your business can help you to make immediate improvements and potentially free up some valuable resources, which can then be devoted to something more productive elsewhere in your business.
Repairing Your Business
The most important step in this process is to actually do something about the broken parts of your business that are holding you back. This means setting aside time specifically for the purpose of fixing all those things that you promised you’d get to at some later date.
This is one of those aspects of being a freelancer that seems the least rewarding on the surface. It’s not often desirable to think about the negative things, but it’s easier than it sounds, and if you take action now you’ll feel instantly better about where your business is today, and where it’s going. You’ll have less problems affecting your business, and less undesirable tasks filling up your to-do list.
Once you focus on the broken pieces, you’ll be able to turn your attention to the things that are working well, and maybe even make them better with any resources you might have liberated from the wreckage of past mistakes.
You know what they say: The early bird catches the worms! In case you missed it: I am offering my online drawing course 'Just Draw It' again in October. It seems like a long time before it starts, and you may be wondering why I am blogging about this right now. Well... it's because today is the very last day for you to take advantage of the early bird fee. For 6 weeks full of drawing fun, instead of $99, you pay $89!
Just Draw It is a popular drawing course full of drawing techniques. During the 6-week course I help you to get rid of 'I-can't-draw-that'-thoughts by taking things step by step in online videos, images and text. Together with your class mates (each in your own time zones) you will see a lot of development and growth in your drawings.
This course is for both beginners and the more advanced. So what are you waiting for?
Whether students have a year or more under their belts or are starting school for the first time, a new school year can invoke everything from laughter to tears to giggles and cheers. Teachers face the full spectrum of student feelings about the first day of a new school year: excitement, shyness, doubt, fear, anxiety.
How can we help our students face their feelings and the start of the new school year?
Selecting the right back-to-school read aloud is exciting because of the potential it holds. We can imagine the conversations we will have with our scholars and the connections they will make. We can imagine the safe, welcoming, reading-first space we will inspire.
It may be tempting to concentrate on introducing students to routines and expectations and practicing procedures around sitting on the carpet or signaling for the bathroom. However, building classroom culture is critical to a successful school year. Reading should start on day 1 as part of your strategy for achieving that safe, welcoming, reading-first space.
As you assemble or sort through your read aloud bin for the right mentor texts for the first unit in your scope & sequence, think about which books signal the community and classroom culture you want and your students need.
Pair read alouds that are “elementary school classics” with books that celebrate and recognize your students’ experiences, backgrounds, and interests.
For example, a classic back to school read aloud is Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, about a young girl’s first day of kindergarten. Henkes captures the feelings of many new students navigating new spaces and friendships.
Now pair that with a text that has characters with identities and experiences that are meaningful to your student population. Yes, first day jitters and excitement are universal, but the additional challenge of being a non-native English speaker or coping with homelessness can tip feelings over from nervous to overwhelmed.
Chrysanthemum, You’re Not Alone!
As part of your preparations for the beginning of the school year, gather a collection of your books related to the first day of school.
Allow you to introduce and discuss the roles of students and teachers, the classroom, and school in general
Show young learners that it is normal to have a mixture of feelings during this time of change
Include a variety of themes and topics: the first day of school, making friends, families and communities, dealing with new situations and separation, helping each other process our emotions/overcome fears, and growing up
Getting students to start talking about how a character grapples with new classmates and the school setting can help them express how they are feeling as well as recognize that others in the room feel exactly the same way. (It also gives you the opportunity to start reading to kids! And show how book-centric your classroom is.)
In the first few days, read more than one character’s first day of school. Ask children to make connections between these stories. Also encourage them to connect their own school experiences to those of characters in the books.
If students are writing, have children write about something in school that made them feel happy. It may be one or two sentences. For students who are not writing yet, encourage them to dictate their experience for their drawings to an adult who will record their words. Include a space for students to sketch their answer.
Have students turn to the last page in the book. Then ask them to draw a dream that the character might have that night or imagine what her second day will be like.
As a whole group, write a class letter as Chrysanthemum to Moony Luna. What advice would she have for Luna about school?
Finally, create a bin of other back-to-school books (it’s quite a genre!) for students to explore in and outside of class.
Additionally, consider reading your favorite must-read back-to-school book in the students’ first language (or inviting a parent to join alongside you in the reading) if they are English Language Learners. Many of the most popular “classics” are available in other languages as well as authentic literature written as bilingual texts.
Recognizing children’s cultures and their languages is a BIG deal. Too many schools get students’ names wrong from the beginning. More and more schools have English Language Learner populations and multiple languages spoken within one school and classroom. Reading in students’ language or selecting a text that portrays a character your students identify with communicates to them that they matter, their lives matter, and they are going to learn a ton with you this year.
Culturally responsive books with characters and themes about navigating a new school/grade/year:
A Shelter in Our Car: Zettie and her Mama left their warm and comfortable home in Jamaica for an uncertain life in the United Sates, and they are forced to live in Mama’s car.
David’s Drawings and Los dibujos de David: Available in Spanish and English, a shy young African American boy makes friends in school by letting his classmates help with his drawing of a bare winter tree. A shy young African American boy makes friends in school by letting his classmates help with his drawing of a bare winter tree.
Elizabeti’s School and La escuela de Elizabeti: In this contempory Tanzanian story available in English and Spanish, author Stephanie StuveBodeen and artist Christy Hale once again bring the sweet innocence of Elizabeti to life. Readers are sure to recognize this young child’s emotions as she copes with her first day of school and discovers the wonder and joy of learning.
First Day in Grapes and Primer día en las uvas: Available in Spanish and English, the powerful story of a migrant boy who grows in selfconfidence when he uses his math prowess to stand up to the school bullies.
Home at Last and Al fin en casa: A sympathetic tale available in Spanish and English of a motherdaughter bond and overcoming adversity, brought to life by the vivid illustrations of Felipe Davalos.
The Closet Ghosts: Moving to a new place is hard enough without finding a bunch of mean, nasty ghosts in your closet. When Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, answers Anu’s plea for help, Anu rejoicesuntil she realizes that those pesky ghosts don’t seem to be going anywhere.
The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza: Bilingual English/Spanish. Awardwinning poet Juan Felipe Herrera’s engaging memoir of the year his migrant family settled down so that he could go to school for the first time.
Willie Wins: In this heart-warming story, a boy gets beyond peer pressure and comes to appreciate the depth of his father’s love.
This month marks the re-release of the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series, Legend of the Timekeepers through my new publishers Mirror World Publishing! I found this story much harder to write because I was jolted out of my comfort zone of historical facts and into the fictitious civilization of Atlantis. Fantasy isn’t easy to write. You have to come up with a believable world to lure your readers in. And if you write something that doesn’t jive, you risk pulling your reader out of the world you’ve created and possibly out of your book. That said, I’m so grateful for the editorial crew I was gifted with on this book, and my hope is that you’ll appreciate and enjoy the journey we’ve all been through to make this book possible and believable.
Here’s the tagline and blurb from Legend of the Timekeepers:
There is no moving forward without first going back.
Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.
Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.
When The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantisdebuted, I posted my Dedication and Acknowledgements from that book on my blog. So in keeping with this tradition, here is the Dedication and Acknowledgements from Legend of the Timekeepers:
For my mother, Peggy. You taught me to stand up for myself, and never forget my roots.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: Life is a team effort, and nothing is done without the help and support of others. The following people are in some way connected to the fabric of this work, to which I am eternally grateful:
Thank you to the staff at Mirror World Publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett, Murandy Damodred, and Robert Dowsett who gave this book a second chance.Hugs to my rock-star editor Tricia Schwaab who pushed my creative buttons so far I thought I was going through the change of life all over again. Seriously, Tricia, you made me a better writer. And finally, high fives to my book cover artist Kelly Shorten, who knew exactly what I wanted on her very first attempt at designing my beautiful cover—you are truly gifted.
A special shout out goes to my Wenches of Words family, especially to my cohort, Sloane Taylor. You Wenches have made this past year a special one with your show of kindness, support, caring, solidarity, and teamwork. Love you gals! May your lives be blessed with many bestsellers!
And last but not least, a big sloppy thank you to my hubby, Mike. You put up with enough of my melt-downs and tantrums to clear away any bad karma left between us. Again you acted as my pillar, my post, and more often than not, my anchor. God bless.
While we have six new release giveaways this week, we're also super excited to be giving away a copy of Compulsion by our founder, Martina Boone! Compulsion, Martina's YA debut, first came out in October 2014. Almost 10 months later, the paperback has been released, and we're giving one to you!
The Make it in Design blog has recently been showcasing some more of their students design work. Featuring a selection from graduates who took the January 2015 module 1 of The Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design and I thought I would pick out some of my faves here on P&P to help promote these new designers. The first design to catch my eye (above) was by Leah Brandwood whose interesting
I checked out The Secret Princess on a lark. I was pressed for time with review books, but I saw the cover while browsing the virtual shelves at the library and was hooked. It’s very cute, and I like the art style. So I clicked the Borrow button and sat down to read it right away. The story is cute too, so I’m glad I had a case of ADD.
Lotty has always behaved as her grandmother wished, and never rebelled against her. The princess of Montluce, she has a reputation and public image to uphold. When a series of threats against the throne make her grandmother nervous about the succession, she arranges for Lotty to marry her cousin. Even though Phillippe is her best friend, she just can’t see herself married to him. Besides, he’s in love with her friend, Caro, and she doesn’t want to come between them. Taking Phillippe’s advice, she runs away from home, determined to use this opportunity to kick up her heels and experience the freedom she’s been denied for so long.
She goes to Scotland because her mother loved the country. Unfortunately, her wallet is stolen soon after she arrives. Penniless, she’s desperate to get a job, and asks Corran McKenna to hire her, despite the locals warnings to stay far away from him. The grumpy guy is quick to point out that she isn’t strong enough to help him work his land, and he has no use for a woman employee. Undeterred and persistent, she pesters him to point that he offers her a position. If she can get a cottage in desperate need of TLC cleaned up and painted by the end of the weekend, he’ll hire her. Not one to turn down a challenge, Lotty proves that Corran has underestimated her, and he reluctantly offers her a job.
Once she starts working alongside Corran, Lotty feels guilty for lying to him about her true identity. Corran knows that there’s something off about her, but he just thinks that she’s a spoiled rich kid who has run away from home over some petty argument with her family. As the two get to know each other, Lotty learns that the villagers think Corran stole the land from his younger brother. He doesn’t hesitate to tell her that there is no love lost between his step-mother and his half-brother, and that his father turned his back on him after leaving his mother. Corran ended up with the land because his father knew that the upkeep would be a financial burden, and he didn’t want to pin that on his youngest son. Instead, in spite, he left the land to Corran, who loved it and wants to make improvements, but can’t because he can’t get a loan.
I enjoyed The Secret Princess because of the pretty art, seamless translation, and engaging story. Lotty really is a kind person, and she’s determined to make the villagers see that they are wrong where Corran is concerned. Before she leaves, she wants to repay his kindness by setting the record straight with the people who have basically shunned Corran. Despite their rocky start, Lotty has come to care for her gruff employer. She also loves the land, and wants to see Corran’s dreams come true. She knows that they have no future together, so she’s decided to live for the moment, for the first time in her life.
The pacing is spot on, and the HEA, though highly unbelievable in this age of heightened security, is satisfying. I was completely sold on their joyous future together.
Review copy borrowed from my local library
Princess of Montluce, Lotty, is very introverted and has never been able to express herself. Her grandmother wants to arrange an engagement for her, and she ends up running away. She wants to see what she can do on her own, and possibly fall in love for the first time… However, she loses her wallet in some town since she’s not used to having one, and ends up working for a man named Corran as a maid. At first, she is angered by his rudeness, but she ends up smitten by the kindness behind his crude demeanor.
In The Sun Henry Akubuiro has a Q & A with Tade Ipadeola, NNLG laureate: I have no time for literary zombies -- which is certainly a nice headline.
Admirable that he's translated (well, hmmm ... "more of 'traduction' in the sense of what translation means in a Romance language such as French. It was a whim" ...) Auden into Yoruba -- and disappointing that they're still:
unpublished translations of Daniel Fagunwa Yoruba classical novels, into English The Divine Cryptograph [Aditu] and The Pleasant Potentate of Ibudo [Ireke Onibudo].
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” ~ William James
I have so enjoyed this unit on summer experiences presented by the Teaching Authors. At the core of these discussions is the importance of making connections. JoAnn connects to nature, offering interesting experiments with monarch butterflies.
Esther, Carlaand April explore the important connections to be made at writing conferences that go above and beyond the business of writing.
Mary Ann connects to the next generation of writers in her discussion of summer camp,
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ~ Herman Melville
We know stories are old. Humans have been telling stories for over 100,000 years. Not every culture had developed codified laws, or even a written language, but every culture in the history of the world has had stories. Some research suggests stories predate language, that language came about in order to express story concepts.
And those first stories are found in paintings buried in prehistoric caves. An ancient man reaches out and across 40,000 years to his descendents, connecting past to present. It is the essence of humankind to connect. As Eric Booth states, in The Everyday Work of Art, “Art is not apart. It is a continuum within which all participate; we all function in art, use the skills of art, and engage in the action of artists every day.”
Kinza Riza/Courtesy of Nature.com.
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thank you for connecting with me and the Teaching Authors!
About the photograph: A stencil of an early human's hand in an Indonesian cave is estimated to be about 39,000 years old. Kinza Riza/Courtesy of Nature.com.
Part I of this post addressed a familiar question: how should individuals concerned about international issues decide where to donate money? Here I turn to a second, less familiar question that follows from the first: what is entailed in being a responsible donor after the question of where to donate has been settled?
Every representation of a person's life is just that—a representation. A curation. A summary. An interpretation.
I know that. I off went to see "Amy," the deeply moving documentary about the great singer, Amy Winehouse, fully aware that what I was about to witness was a life encoded by footage and recall, and not a life itself.
Still. There are some incontestable things about this British singer with a genius touch and a tortured relationship with her own talent. First (incontestable): she could sing. Second (I think it's clear): she wasn't always sure of who to trust. Third: she died too young of alcohol poisoning in a body winnowed to near nothing by too many drugs and an eating disorder.
Fourth: Winehouse never originally wanted to be famous, never thought she would be famous, never imagined herself capable of fame. She is there, in the footage, saying so. But fame became hers, fame became her, and she had to live, and die, with the consequences.
There is a dividing line between those who make things in order to be known or seen, and those whose loyalties lie with the things themselves—the songs, the films, the stories. There are those who craft themselves into a brand—who orchestrate aggrandizements, who leverage opportunities, who seek out "friendships" that will advance them, who overstay their welcome, who build cliques that further not their art but their careers, who ricochet with gossip. And there are those who (I think, in the book world, of Alice McDermott, Marilynne Robinson, and Michael Ondaatje) seek out private quiet. Yes, they cede to interviews and talks and touring when their books are released. But they also vanish from public view, and consumption, just as soon as they're able.
Fame—a seething hope for it—is not what propels them.
Watching "Amy," one wants to turn back time. To give the artist her creative space. To let her walk the streets without the blinding pop of cameras. One wants to give her what matters most—room for the everyday and the ordinary. Supremely talented, unwittingly destined, Amy Winehouse suffered. She made choices, certainly. She faced a wall of personal demons. But the media that stalked her and the fans who turned hold some responsibility for what happened.
Artists have the responsibility to do their work for the right reasons. They have responsibility to the work itself—to not sell out, to not write to trends, to not step on others in their quest for something.
But fans have responsibilities, too. To give the artists room to make, to risk, to sometimes fail. To love artists for who they are and what they do and not for whether or not, in this bracket of time, they appear to be potentially famous. To see artists as people who would be better off, who would be healthier, given some time to live with dignity instead of trailing endless glitter.
March House Books is now closed. It feels odd thinking that never mind writing it. It was a big part of my life for a very long time, but I know I've done the right thing. Just think, no more worrying about finding new stock, no getting up at 5am to travel hundreds of miles to auctions, no more packing parcels at midnight to make sure they catch the morning post. Oh dear, I miss it already!
Thank you to all the customers who became friends, I know we will remain in touch. Thank you to everyone who Tweeted, Facebooked and contacted me in numerous other ways. Special thanks to Claudine at Carry us off Books and Yvonne at Winter Moon for writing such nice things on their blogs. I also want to thank Sue at Green Meadow Books. She was the inspiration behind March House Books, and I will be forever grateful to her.
March of Time Books as suggested by my cousin John came top in the ‘rename this blog’ competition. March House Adventures suggested by Yvonne came a close second, and Willie came up with some interesting ideas ‘Beware the ides of March’ being one of them! Willie also mentioned giving a prize for the best name (why didn't I think of that?) hence this little book will soon be on the way to John. John is a writer and a poet, so I feel sure he will enjoy it. There is also a second prize for Yvonne and a highly commended for Willie. Both will be on the way in the next few days.
I have lots of ideas for this my new/old blog. One thing I really want to do is to make space for lots of guest posts. Do you have a favourite book, a fascinating hobby or collection or are you working on a new venture? You don’t have to be a ‘professional’ blogger just someone with an interesting story to tell. Maybe you are thinking of starting your own blog but have yet to take the plunge – why not post something here it just might give you the motivation you need. Send me an email (via the email me button in the right-hand column) tell me what you want to write about, and I will do the rest.
Seriously. Regarding my final posting on the UK Comic industry post, someone called Tony Lee commented "delusional"!
Now, no, I am NOT delusional -that WAS my last posting on the subject but I like to hear from all fans.
LOTS of emails from out of work UK comic creators stating "spot on".
Of course, there are those who wangle a lot of work and turn out mediocre scripts/series in comics and because they get constant work tend to be very delusional about reality for the real comickers because "if there is no UK comic industry" they cannot be pandered as "stars". Ego always brushes over facts.
I clicked "Tony Lee's" profile to find it is private and no one but selected minions can view it. Now, I put up a post with point after point all backed up and covering 40 years of experience in comics. So, I am guessing that this "Tony Lee" is just another one of those flamers because, and here is a pointer to you bloggers about the comments to ignore, all he/she could respond with was "delusional" and these people have an image of you getting angry, annoyed and upset because you cannot respond back to them. That's what they do. It's that little comic clique again.
Of course I can respond where it matters -here on CBO where EVERYONE can see what I post. I'm not hiding behind a private blog (if it exists).
As for "Tony Lee"...well, he's Spam. But I do have a message for him from the heart....
And that DOES end the British comic 'industry' postings.
Lately, I’ve been building a proposal for Cell Story, my work in progress.
Proposals are a surprising amount of work, mostly because there’s so much that I need to address that I don’t necessarily know about yet. Mine tend to be really detailed and have a lot of things others might not need, but my agent and I are on the more-is-better side of the fence when it comes to these things.
Here’s what we always include:
1. A sample of the writing.
Contracts for option projects generally say they require three chapters and a synopsis, but three chapters just isn’t enough for me. Again, I’m in the more-is-better camp, so for this project, I have about 30,000 words written and revised. That’s a third of the book. (I think. I hope only a third.) I figure, the more of the actual story I can offer them (editors and acquisitions people), the better idea they will have of the story I’m trying to tell.
And it’s not just for them. I want to make sure I’m enjoying the story enough to keep going. It’s a huge commitment, agreeing to write an entire book! I don’t want to get a few chapters in and discover it’s not a project I want to spend at least the next two years with. So I write as much as I can, because I want to be sure of it for myself, too.
2. Elevator pitch.
It’s important to be able to tell someone quickly what the book is about. When you’re doing a signing in a store and someone walks up to your table and asks what the book is about, they want a sentence, not a speech. Hook them with a short description to make them want to hear the longer version.
I try to hammer these out from the very beginning, because it’s useful to know how I’ll describe the book–and also because it’s something I can always refer back to if I lose focus.
3. Query/flap-copy description.
I usually write a query-style description of the book even before I start–it helps me get a better idea of the story I’m wanting to tell–so all I have to do for a proposal is get it polished up. (And make sure it still lines up with the story I’m going to tell. This time, it didn’t. I had to rewrite the description from scratch.)
Again, this is something I often refer back to any time I start to lose focus in the story.
Synopses are one of the things most proposals will always include. Again, it’s to give the publisher people a sense that you know where you’re going with the story.
I try to have a good, detailed one for the first book. Sequels usually have something shorter and broader, closer to a query description but with an ending point, because I don’t always know how I’m going to get somewhere, but I need to know where I am going, at least.
5. Character list.
These are useful for giving a sense of the size of the cast, and simply as a reference for later. In my character lists, main characters get detailed descriptions, while minor characters get a line or two about their role in the story.
6. Location list.
Since I write fantasy, this is really useful as a reference–and for getting a quick idea of the scope of the world. Again, more important locations get longer descriptions, while minor locations get briefer descriptions. And in worlds that have a lot of moving parts and characters traveling places, this can be extremely useful for showing that there is a difference between the locations and they’re not all Generic Medieval Fantasyland.
7. Comp titles.
Comp titles are always a challenge for me, but they’re really useful for publishers when determining how to position the book and how to market it. “If you like X, then you’ll like Y!”
So there I was, buried under all these things I needed to put together when I realized how completely weird putting together proposals is. I dashed out a quick email to my agent, who responded that this needed to be a blog post. It’s a bit short for an entire post, so you get the above as a bonus. But here’s where this post began:
Proposals are kind of like announcing I’m going to decorate for Christmas.
Here’s a tree that’s decorated on one side, and I’m going to do the whole house like this! No, better than a partially decorated tree! I’ll finish decorating the tree, too, once I know what everything looks like and how the tree needs to fit in. I might have to move the tree over there. Or do you think it looks good here? I can’t tell anymore.
Scattered around are more decorations, some for the tree, but the rest for the house. It’s kind of a mess and it doesn’t look like much, but don’t worry, I have another order coming in any minute now. And a plan! This house is going to look ah-mazing. I swear. It’ll blind passersby and put all the other houses to shame. Now if only I could find the lights for the reindeer I want to put in my yard. Wait, did I order lights for that? I’ll just order some more.
Several of you know, I spent a week on a "Mission Trip" with 21 youth and five other adults doing volunteer work for three organizations: Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org), New Reach (www.newreach.org), And CCA (ccahelps.org). All three organizations help provide housing for those in need, many for women in crisis, along with their children. At the end of the day, I tried to jot down a few of the many powerful moments I witnessed on this trip because I knew I was experiencing something I never wanted to forget. Here it is...
"Love Big: A Reflection"
I climb into a Big White Van And Dave blasts Paradise by The Dashboard Light as we circle the parking lot and wave good-bye. Driving down the highway, "That part in the song" comes on and I wonder, "Do they know what this is about?" Answer: Yes. Yes they do.
By the time we cross the border into Connecticut The Playlist has run through three times. We joke that whoever made this mix Must have stopped listening to music In 1982.
Someone says, "This time we ALL have to sing." We turn up the volume and do our best, singing loud and proud and slightly off-key, ready to start bonding before we even arrive.
That night at vespers Eli says, "At the end of the week, We'll say this was hardest we've ever worked. We'll go home and need a day to recover. But the volunteers here who guided us Will start again on Monday. And they'll do it again the Monday after that." We all let that sink in. "This is a time to be your best selves," Paul told us in the parking lot back home before we left. I get the sense we're all silently committing to that now.
In the morning We stagger out of our beds and grumble about Who got cream cheese on the knife handle, Then circle up in the parking lot, hold hands And pray together for a day of good work.
In the vans, we count numbers. Turn on the play list. Sing a little shyly with our new group. Watch as one side of town Transforms to another. Manicured lawns of bright green grass Turn overgrown and weedy. Freshly painted houses Turn paint chipped and dirty. Loved and cared for neighborhoods Turn to ones of neglect.
At the work site, we huddle together in a shed while we wait for the rain to pass. Our hosts share breakfast and tell us about the women living in the shelter. I feel guilty as I eat my jelly doughnut, Looking at the building and thinking about the stories inside.
When the work starts We pull weeds entangled with garbage, Grown together as if they're the same thing. We discover someone's shelter under a truck bed liner: There's a sleeping bag Some personal belongings. Bottles filled with a liquid none of us want to identify.
The teens handle these things tenderly. They worry out loud about what will happen when the owner returns to find everything gone. I try not to cry because I'm the adult. But this first morning is already hurting my heart In unexpected ways.
All day we sweat and pull weeds Shovel rocks Power wash Paint in the blasting sun. At the end of the day, we collapse in the van and count down the number of times we have to do it all again. But then I think of Eli's words, And put the blister on my toe out of my mind.
Breakfast is quiet as we wander out one by one and compare predictions for how hot it will get today. On the highway there's a billboard that says "Love Big," And I tell myself, that's my motto for the week.
At the site, we start sweating as soon as we unload. We shovel more rocks. Pull more weeds. Pick up trash. Mow. Mix cement. Trim hedges. And compare sweat stains.
As we pour the cement, I see a little girl watching from an open window. She's eating cereal out of a tall glass. I smile and say hi. She says hi back. I wonder "What's your story?" I bet she wonders the same thing.
Tonight, we drive to the shore, Swim in the cool salt water and watch the sunset. We talk about grief, Troubled waters, And how important it is To cause a stir of change.
I feel an overwhelming sense of privilege Looking out at the ocean, Wondering if any of the residents we helped today Have ever shared this view. The irony of our troubled waters discussion hits me, while the quiet, calm water laps the sand.
Today we work on the second floor balcony Staining a porch railing. To get there, we have to use the stairs inside. Now, we catch glimpses of who we're doing this for. We hear them behind thin walls. A baby crying. A mother comforting. It goes on and on as we paint a second coat, And I'm sure we're all wondering again: What's your story?
When we all reunite back at church, We share survival stories And agree we all worked hard, Just in different ways. We joke that there are teams, But we are One.
We visit a quarry and jump off cliffs. Swing down ziplines And have a picnic dinner. We sing happy birthday to Eli as the sun sets. At vespers we talk about joy instead of grief, But circle back again to acknowledge How connected the two tend to be.
As we drive to our site, Paul inspires us with an Elvis song. We plant trees. Dig up mulch. Sing Dig Sing Sweat. So much. I think about the billboard sign from earlier in the week: Love Big.
Logan and I name our tree Buttercup. We put flowers in our hair and say we have Flower Power, And power through the afternoon with new energy. Every day, I have seen our youth rediscover their best selves. Pushing harder, singing louder, embracing their work with "lovely energy" that astonishes and lifts me up.
On our last morning of work, we listen to our usual playlist, And Molly says, "If you change the subject of this song from romance to the mission trip, This is exactly how I feel about all of you." We sing "Hooked on a feeling" a little bit louder after that.
There are tears on our way home that day. We sing "Country Road, Take Me Home" But I get the sense none of us really wants to go yet. That night, we share thank you's. We talk about how much our lives have changed this week, And whether we've caused a big enough change in the troubled waters we've witnessed. There are more tears. More hugs. I look at this circle and see a new community. I see Loving Companionship. I see Family. I think of the Love Big billboard. It's a motto that sticks.
We caravan home. Some sleep. Some sing. I keep turning around, looking at the faces in our van. They were mostly just acquaintances on the ride down 7 days ago. Now, they are "loving companions." Family. I know all year I will hear a song Or a phrase Or see a pink flower Or a newly planted tree And think of these inspiring youth. I'll wonder where they are and how they're doing. They're part of my deep well now. Part of my heart. They have helped me be my best self. And I'm forever grateful. I will always love them big.
Monday Morning Warm-Up: As you can see, this isn't necessarily a poem, but a list of moments. My challenge to you is to find the things in your day this week (and later the firs week of school) that you could do something similar with. Turn meaning into the mundane. Reflect on what inspired. Give purpose to what angered. Show gratitude for a moment of joy or comfort. And as always, try to have fun.
The introduction for Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey begins by noting that Jane Goodall "has been chosen as the most recognized scientist in the Western world." Regardless of how accurate that statement is, the fact remains that Jane Goodall is still alive, has been working in her field for over 50 years and her subject is something that is almost universally appealing
I'm still very much drowning in deadlines (when will they ever stop) but here's this week's MMGM links!
(Oh! Also, tomorrow is EVERBLAZE's paperback release day. So make sure you check back for a special giveaway!)
- Michelle Mason wants you to know that YOU'RE INVITED. Click HERE to read her review.
- Kim Aippersbach is exploring 100 CUPBOARDS. Click HERE to see why!
- Molly at My Cozy Book Nook is spending time with THE FAMILY UNDER THE BRIDGE. ClickHERE to see what she thought.
- Cindy at Cindy Reads has two things to talk about, INSIDE OUT and THE DESCENDANTS. Click HERE to check it out
- Greg Pattridge is getting LOST IN THE SUN. Click HERE to read his feature.
- Laurisa White Reyes is giving us all the dirt on FUZZY MUD. Click HERE to see why.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.
If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com.(Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)
If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.
Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!
*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.
I discovered these gorgeous Ruka Ruka age cards in Paperchase and thought they looked fabulously fun and bright. The designs have a retro look and a hint of the vintage circus style about them. With ages 1 to 10 the collection was designed by Ruka Ruka's founder Sinead Gray and was spotted in Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road in Lonon. You can also buy them online at Ruka Ruka or NOTHS.