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1. Did You See This On Google News? Amazing!

[Click on the headlines for links!]

Al Jazeera publishes a web comic, and it’s not what you expect!

Two Harris County (Texas) District Attorney employees were indicted by a grand jury for stealing evidence and selling it online!

The case that landed both men in jail began in May 2012, when they were assigned to investigate attorney Anthony Chiofalo, who embezzled about $9 million from his client, a company that manufactures heavy cranes.

[…]

In October 2012, Blevins sold thousands of dollars worth of rare comic books to a dealer in Chicago who later discovered they were the same items purchased by Chiofalo from an online auction house.

An attorney representing the company Chiofalo had worked for learned about the comics and recognized the name of the seller: Harris County DA’s investigator Lonnie Blevins.

The FBI arrested Blevins in February 2013 – about two months after he left the district attorney’s office. Federal prosecutors said he “cooperated substantially” in their inquiry.

Braina signing 225x300 Did You See This On Google News?  Amazing!arnes & Noble offers signed books as door busters on Black Friday!

Here’s the link showing all of the titles!  Wimpy Kid!  Smile!  American Gods!  Amulet!  Timmy Failure!

Raina Telgemeier has posted scenes of her massive signing schedule on Facebook, where she signed eleven packages of book pages over ten days with twelve Sharpies.  The pages were then shipped to Asia, where they were bound into the books.  All in top secret mode.

Dunno if President Bush did the same, or if he went to an undisclosed location and signed the actual copies of his book.

How Did A Cartoonist for the National Lampoon and Playboy Get Hired To Draw One Of America’s Most Iconic Comic Strips?!?

…and why was he fired six years later?  Comic Book Resources has the secret history!

Obligatory Hyperbolic Press Release Of The Day

…with qualifications.

“Since we created the Safe Ship & Zip boxes, the damage rate has dropped to nearly zero,” said Drucker. “And, we’ve received lots of e-mails from customers thanking us for making opening boxes so easy.”

“We’ve shipped comic books to 117 countries, and our damage rate is among the lowest in the comic book business,” said [CEO Jim] Drucker. “So, if you buy comic books online, or are looking for comic books for sale, you don’t have to worry about shipping damage at NewKadia.”

[I did a sample search on their website.  They have a copy of “Superman Meets The Quik Bunny”, so it seems like a decent site.]

A New Comic Con Is Announced In Asia!

In a briefing today, Al Ahli Holding Group (AAHG) chief executive officer Mohammed Khammas said the company will hold the Asia Pop Comic Con 2015 in the Philippines.

The annual event features international brands in comics, animation, toys, music and movies, and Manila’s hosting will mark the United Arab Emirates-based conglomerate’s investment in the Philippines.

[…]

Established in 1977, AAHG’s businesses range from real estate to construction, engineering and infrastructure, retail and trading, technology and logistics, lifestyle and fitness, entertainment, as well as hospitality.

The conglomerate operates in 25 countries and has a 5,000-strong workforce.

…And You Can Have A Coffee While You Wait For It To OpenSweet Purple Potato Latte 300x199 Did You See This On Google News?  Amazing!

Those are not the only pleasant surprises you’ll find upon entering Subspace Coffee House, though. Living up to the establishment’s moniker, the three-year-old coffee shop is divided into diverse, uniquely designed sections—“subspaces,” if you will—that, when taken together, deliver a one-of-a-kind cafe experience for K-Pop fans, pop culture geeks, office workers, and social media enthusiasts alike.

They specialize in latte art… using the foam to make an illustration, as seen here.

Thor is also proud of the fact that, as geeks and fans themselves, they can get pretty much any latte art request right, with minimal to zero questions and at no extra cost. “Our coffee is good, but our strength is really our latte art—we transport people to different locations by personalizing their coffee.” From comic book characters to TV shows to K-Pop bands, Subspace’s artists have got latte art down to a science. “[Our regulars] know that when they come in, we ‘get’ it. No need to explain what they want us to draw on their coffee. No questions asked, we get it.”

Another School Library Gets Boys To Read, in Fayettville, North Carolina

In the “Guys Read” program, students are paired with mentors who read with them and try to introduce them to the joys of the printed page. Many of the mentors are South View High School students.

Baldwin librarian Jennifer Scott said boys were singled out for the mentor program because they tend to read less than their female counterparts. Particularly at the fourth-grade level, Scott said, boys tend to drift away from reading.

[…]

Scott said the program attempts to identify books that 9- and 10-year-old boys might like.

“They like graphic novels. They don’t want books that don’t have pictures,” she said. “They don’t like made-up stories. If they do come to the library, they spend their time in the nonfiction section.”

The school advertised the mentoring program and partnered with South View High School. Many of the mentors are ROTC students looking to earn community volunteer credits, but other people from the community have volunteered to help.

…And A High School Teacher In Red Bank, New Jersey, Teaches Comics

Red Bank Regional High School teacher Sara Van Ness, who has published books on graphic novels, has turned her interest in the art form into a popular course at the high school.

“Graphic novels combine both visuals and the written word, so the reader is really participating in the meaning making process,” Van Ness said. “The kids not only have to interpret the words, but also the pictures and the interaction of the two. So it’s sometimes a more challenging reading experience for students, which is not the perception we have of graphic novels of: ‘Oh, they’re just for kids’ or ‘Oh, they’re easier text to read.'”

Discover The Secret Comic Book Origin Of An Art Book Publisher!

You started selling books very young. What were you into then?

I was interested in one particular comic book artist who made the Donald Duck series: Carl Barks, who is one of the great American 20th century art geniuses, and he’s still totally underappreciated. I thought I was the only one collecting comic books, but I learned that others did the same but much older than me — people who were looking to buy back the lost dreams of their childhood. So I started dealing when I was still in school; I had a little mail-order business when I was 14. I have this DNA for what a collector needs or loves. What we wanted to do later on with our books was create the ultimate fetish items for the collector.

Read the entire interview to discover an exclusive announcement!  (And if you’ve been good this year, Santa might bring you this.)

A Crowdfunded Comic Teaches Indian Children About The Law

Kanan and Kelly Dhru still have the wide-eyed enthusiasm characteristic of fresher law students. The sisters are on a mission to foster a new generation of kids who will grow up to be socially responsible adults aware of the laws that govern them. To this end, they plan to release a series of comic books called ‘Lawtoons’.

The first volume, which was released earlier this month, is titled “A Song for Everyone” and deals with topics like the Right to Equality and Freedom of Expression. The initiative has been successfully crowd-funded, with a total of 2.75 lakhs being raised for the first volume alone.

[Now if only someone in the U.S. could produce a comic on how Grand Juries work…]

“Batman and Robin” Meets “Batman Forever” or “Chill.”

Comics Artwork From Boris Karloff’s Cousin Sells For $485,500 in France

Some 400 lots of comic art were sold at the auction in Paris on Saturday, Artcurial said, with the highest price fetched by a Tintin strip from “The Castafiore Emerald”, signed by its creator Herge, going for 404,500 euros.

You can see the results at Artcurial’s website.  Search for Sale 2666, held 22 November 2014.  Or view the 244-page catalog here!

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2. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

I hope your tables are crowded with the people you love, and your plates are full of delicious dishes. May a Thanksgiving Turkey arrive in time for cleanup duty.  On Black-Friday and Cyber-Monday, may you find outstanding deals and rarely need to plop down any dollars, euros, or other currency. And on Saturday, may The Ohio State University surpass the 20 point lead they currently have over the University of Michigan. Whomever decides those leads will find they are wrong when the spread is closer. This rivalry will kick butt until the final bell, buzzer, or whistle blows.

Mostly, have  a joyful holiday weekend.

Quick note: I am still in the rehab hospital, but the hip aspiration (after four cancellations), was finally performed. The collected fluid looked good, but could still grow on one of those red plastic dishes, keeping me in this place another 8 weeks. There are a couple of other problems sticking their ugly heads up, yet the doctors are top-notch and all the problems will be gone before a new hip arrives. Mostly, they make me tired, frustrated, and missing home more than ever. But I have faith that once my surgeon returns next week, the news will be good and a new hip will find its way to me the following week. It looks like I will make it home by the first of the year, though I am going to work hard to make that sooner. I would love to be home for Christmas. I think I will make myself a ring/chain calendar to help get through the remaining days.

Have a Wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!

[Picture a beautiful turkey here. I do not have access to a scanner.]


Filed under: Children's Books

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3. A Lot Further Down The Romance Road

Back in 2012, I found Daughter of Smoke and Bone to be both romance and fantasy, two genres I'm not fond of in and of themselves. I need something more in those genres, such as a strong character, or, in the case of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a mystery. Who was the main character, Karou? Why was the guy with the wings always hanging around her? There was a journey thing going on, as Karou discovered who and what she was. I can't find a post on Days of Blood and Starlight, the second book in the trilogy, but I recall feeling it was a connector, which second books in trilogies often are.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the last book in the trilogy, is more clearly a romance. There's various other things going on, but the real significant storyline here is all about Karou and Akiva. Their eyes meet across a crowd. There are many paragraphs about kissing. Lots of relationship stuff. There are teases for the reader, too. Will they kiss? Someone shows up at the cave opening and No! The kiss is off! Will they get together for some real hot and heavy stuff? Oh, they're getting closer...closer...No! Akiva has disappeared!

You can probably tell I'm not that keen on Karou and Akiva anymore. No, Liraz was my big interest in this book. I won't tell you who she gets together with because that's the best surprise.

The Significance Of Romance And Marketing "Gods And Monsters"

 

I happened to read A Billion-dollar Affair in the Oct. 24 issue of Entertainment Weekly while I was reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Sales of romance are huge, there's an enormous market. At the same time, though, author Karen Valby says the "long-ridiculed" genre is "dismissed by the critical mass." As a result, I started wondering how Dreams of Gods and Monsters is being marketed. Is it being promoted as a fantasy or paranormal romance, which could bring it to a large and appreciative audience? Or is it being marketed as something else, perhaps to avoid the romance label?

In a USA Today interview, Taylor talks about working on a short story for a romance anthology, so she thinks of romance as a genre she works within, at least some of the time
. I think there is a romance thing going on in the publisher's marketing of the book, but it's subtle. The publisher's copy at its website includes the line "They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love." There's also talk of various beings fighting, striving, loving, and dying.

Wait. I just realized. My romance reading is limited to historical mysteries with couple characters. I don't read advertising copy for romance novels. "They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love" may be exactly how a romance novel is marketed.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters is a Cybils nominee in the Young Adult Speculative Fiction category.
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc

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4. Prim Kitty


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5. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain


Three children...and ​then there were two.  All was hush, hush about how that happened, and Riley didn't find out why until after both her parents had passed away.

As Riley was cleaning out her parents' home, talking to different neighbors, and talking to folks her father had left things to in his will, she had her share of surprises and shocking revelations.

THE SILENT SISTER has twists that keep you turning the pages as you learn of  secrets that had been kept for years and secrets that only a few folks knew about. How could anyone keep a secret like that?  How could anyone live his/her entire life worrying that the secret might accidentally be revealed?

The characters were well developed, but a lot of them were unlikeable.  Riley was a likeable character because she had to deal with everything, and she was  the character that had to deal with these​ secrets alone.  Danny, her brother, was not likeable at all.  He was too unpredictable.  Riley's parents were not active characters and to me not likeable​, but they, especially her father, carried the storyline and its suspense. 

I always enjoy Ms. Chamberlain's books, and this was no exception.  THE SILENT SISTER is an intriguing read with a ​perfec​t ​​title and a storyline filled with riveting ​incidents that were divulged. 

The secrets, the betrayal, and the ending are superb.  Don't miss reading THE SILENT SISTER.  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.​



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6. Happy Thanksgiving – Inspiration & Winners

thanksgiving2
Michelle Henninger sent this illustration in to help us celebrate Thanksgiving. Michelle prefers a traditional approach of pen/ink, and watercolor: with a touch of digital thrown in for good measure. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she was a New England SCBWI Ann Barrows Illustration Scholarship recipient. She was the first 2014 featured illustrator on Illustrator Saturday. She is represented by Christina Tugeau at CATugeau.

THANKSGIVING PRAYER
by Eileen Spinelli

Thank you for the world–still sweet.

Thank you for the food we eat.

Thank you for the honeyed sun

that spoons its light on everyone.

Thank you for the leaves that fall

in glowing piles near the wall,

for kindness in a stranger’s face

and every unexpected grace.

Thank you for the starry dark,

for children laughing in the park,

for cozy towns and sleepy farms,

for dreamers, dancers, babes in arms.

Than you for all hearts that sing

of hope in spite of everything.

Fall Favorites
by Carol Murray

Pumpkins, round, upon the ground,

and children playing ball,

Scarecrow tips his tattered hat,

and waves to one and all.

Sleek black cats on fuzzy mats,

reclining, large and small,

and every size has starlit eyes,

like diamonds at The Mall.

Wine is chilled, and home is filled

with friends, both short and tall.

Hooray! Hooray! Thanksgiving Day.

Favorite things of Fall.
by Carol Murray

A Thanksgiving Toast

Here’s to years of happiness

and months of sunny skies,

To weeks of reaching mountain peaks,

and days of caring eyes,

To hours of hope and tenderness,

and minutes of delight,

On second thought, we wish you love,

We’re giving thanks tonight.

Thank you to Michelle, Eileen, and Carol for sharing their work to help us celebrate Thanksgiving. Hope everyone enjoys the day.

Winners:

Darlene Beck-Jacobson won Gayle Aanensen’s book BETTER THAN GOLD.

Joanne Roberts won SPAGHETTI SMILES by Margo Sorenson.

Congratulations! Winner please send me your addresses so they can be sent out.

You may wonder why I did not post the poems for the Thanksgiving Poem Contest yesterday. That is because Carol Murray was the only one to send in a poem for the contest and the default winner. Thank you Carol.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Contest, Holiday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Better Than Gold, Carol Murray, Eileen Spinelli, Happy Thanksgiving, Spaghetti Smiles, Thanksgiving Poem Contest

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7. Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.
Writing
In a collection like this, an anthology with multiple authors, it's only natural that some really hit the mark and some fell a little short.  In terms of writing, I think the best I can say is that it totally lives up to the premise of providing heartwarmingly romantic YA short stories.  With the exception of Laini Taylor's story "The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer", which was a gorgeous fairy tale with a literary bent that I wouldn't find out of place in a more adult collection, I think this was light and fun and fluffy, but not much in the way of depth.  And, honestly, when you're writing YA short stories, particularly with the stipulation that they be both romantic and heartwarming, I think authors are somewhat limited stylistically.  With an average of 22 pages to introduce characters, make them sympathetic, and have them fall in love with some ounce of believability, there's just not much room for showing off your chops, right?  That said...

Entertainment Value
I loved it.  I totally and completely ate this up.  I read it after reading Lindsay Hunter's Ugly Girls, which wins the award for most depressing book ever.  In light of that, I absolutely devoured this one and loved every fluffy, fun, snuggly moment of holiday romance.  Some favorites, besides Taylor's include Rainbow Rowell's "Midnights", Stephanie Perkins "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown", and Gayle Foreman's "What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth".  No huge surprises there: the authors whose full-length works I find delightful wrote equally delightful and fun short stories.

I also feel like I can't not mention Laini Taylor's story again here.  Not only was she the most successful in terms of really showing off her writing chops, her story was my favorite overall in terms of entertainment.  She's really created a magical world that I wanted to stay in.  I was sad that it had to be as short as it was for the collection - it's a story I'd enjoy reading as a novel and a world that I'd love to see more of in the future.

Overall
I almost want to go back and delete everything I wrote about the writing of this because I don't want anyone to be confused about the fact that I think this book is completely successful and worth reading.  It's necessarily limited in terms of how much the authors can show off, but that doesn't mean it' not charming and magical and everything fun about Christmas.  If you're into YA, if you like romance anthologies, or if you just need some holiday fluff, you need to read this one.  It was a blast.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review.


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8. Interview with Children’s Book Author – Rhonda Paglia

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’d like to thank you for stopping over today.Rhonda Paglia First of all, I’d like to wish all readers and fans of this blog based in the U.S., a very Happy Thanksgiving. I promise you’ll enjoy the spread laid out today. In the hot seat today is a wonderful lady who is fondly known as ‘Grammy Pags.’ I’ve been so inspired by her energy and passion for life in the lead up to today’s interview. She has so much to share with us today, so get into your most comfortable position and join me in welcoming Rhonda Paglia.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

Hi David, thank you for inviting me to be part of your Author Thursday Interview.  I’m honored, and congratulations on your new book, Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas that is coming out soon!  Congrats!!!  You are prolific!!

Okay, a few facts about me:

  • I’ve been married to my sweet husband, Tony, for 41 years.  We have three grown children, five adorable grandchildren, and little Yorkie-poo named Bella.  She’s my shadow.
  • I’m a retired elementary teacher, [I taught 26 years], and now I’m a Grammy babysitter, a flower planter, a musician, a tap dancer, and a self-published children’s author.
  • I have received a great deal of praise for the first book I released to the public: “The Little Lambs and the Very Special Mission.”
  • I must add that growing up, I had NO confidence in my writing! NONE! ZIPPO! My writing was so bad that in 7th grade, when our English teacher gave us a story writing assignment, my mother ended up red-lining and rewriting everything I had written.  I would have gotten an F on my story, but she earned an A.  I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t look at my teacher for the rest of the year.  It was awful!  I was living a lie every day I walked into his class.  Thankfully, I’ve come a long way in my writing confidence.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Rhonda Paglia? Rhonda Paglia Book Signing

I’m still in the process of learning and developing my “niche.”  I’m just writing for fun.  I have learned a lot in the last two years, and I’m getting and understanding the process more.  My hope is that readers will enjoy my stories and come away with a little glow in their hearts and a little tickle in their tummy.

I want kids to learn something and to stretch their imaginations and creativity.  For example, in my crazy little book, Doonsey’s Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue, kids will find a hero in Doonsey.  They will also learn about his new friends, the “Beach Buddies.”  Our family went on a vacation to the beach.  We “met” Doonsey there.  Then I started seeing faces in the sand that were made out of the shells and stones.  My granddaughter, Sofie, and I started making a bunch of faces and the “Beach Buddies” were born!  We used shells, stones, crab claws, and other items we found on the beach.  The “Buddies” ended up as characters in the first Doonsey book and they will reappear in Book 2.  Kids can learn to make their own Buddy characters with  things they find in nature, not just stones and shells.

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your books? 

I’m new to the “book business” too, but everything I’ve read, indicates that Social Media has a huge impact on getting your name “out there.”  So I tweet, toot, blog, Facebook, website, and get Linkedin, as often as possible, but always feel behind.  It’s a time issue for me, as I’m sure it is for most authors.

Is marketing on Social Media helpful?  Who knows?  I’ve sold books on line, but most of my sales success has been one-on-one, face-to-face, book signing events.  It’s fun too!

 

What in your opinion makes a great children’s book? 

This is a tough one, so my answer is simple.  A GREAT book has ALL the pieces: characters, plot, setting, illustrations.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

The Little Golden Books series, Caps for Sale, Country Mouse and City Mouse, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and all of the classic fairy tales.  I read the Wizard of Oz until the pages were falling out.  Our nearest library was miles away, but every once in a while, we were allowed to buy a comic books at the grocery story.  I loved the adventures of Little Lulu, Dot, and Casper the Friendly Ghost.  And then there is dear Dr. Seuss.  When his books became available, I loved them.  Later I branched out to the Nancy Drew mystery series and some biographies, but mostly, I loved the books that would send me away on adventures.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?Rhonda Paglia Books

Dr. Seuss.  I love the freedom of his language usage.  I love the rhythm and cadence of his words.  I love his stories, characters, and how he moves the plot.  Such fun and imagination!  I will never be a Dr. Seuss, but with my musical background, I find myself using rhythm and rhyme when it’s appropriate.  In my yet to be released book, “Grammy’s Rockin’ Color Rap-a-licious Rap” – Grammy’s looks prim, proper, and sophisticated, but she’s really a closet rocker!

 

How do you reward yourself once your book is published? 

I’m still very new at all of this – and currently, I’m self-published.  However, the fact that my ideas and my works are in my hands, in a form, that I can share with others, is a huge reward.  Like, “Phew!  I did it!”  The “no confidence – non-writer – F’s on story-getter – me” is now writing and publishing stories.  I never thought that would happen – certainly not the 7th grader sitting in English class lying to my teacher about a paper my mother wrote for me!  #Iamwriting!  That’s a biggie reward!

I wrote “Doonsey’s Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue” and created a companion coloring activity book for my grandchildren.  It was a Christmas surprise last year.  My heart just beamed!  Not only did I write a story and publish it for them; I got to be around to read it to them and get their reactions.  Big time reward!

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Toy Story.  I love the characters!!  I love seeing the toys come to life, organizing themselves, tackling problems. Great fun!   I grew up in the country.  We didn’t have any close neighbors.  My friends were at school, a distance away.  I would have LOVED for my toys to come to life, be my “real” friends, and have merry adventures with them.  So definitely, Toy Story!

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Pennsylvania do? Grammy reading Doonsey to O, Ro, & So 12-26-2013

  1.  Visit Amish Country.  Lancaster, in northeast, PA, and Volant and New Wilmington in northwest PA, where I live, near, would be a cultural experience.  It’s hard to believe that we have communities within our modern society that can exist and thrive without electricity and all the conveniences that the rest of us can’t live without!  If you visit the Amish area, many of the locals have little shops in or near their farms.  Visitors can purchase colorful handmade quilted items, homemade pastries and canned goods, plants, beautiful handmade furniture, and get your horse’s harness repaired at the same time!
  2. Pymatuning Lake.  I grew up there, so I’m a little prejudiced.  Pymatuning Lake is located in northwestern PA on the border of PA and Ohio.  It is located within Pymatuning State Park and is the largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania.  The lake is 18 miles long and has over 26 square miles of lake surface.  In 1931, when my dad was 9 years old, he and my grandfather attended the ground breaking ceremonies for the lake.   They saw the first shovel full of dirt removed that would later become Pymatuning Lake Reservoir.  If you are an outdoors person, you can swim, hike, camp, fish, go boating, picnic, and explore.  But make sure you don’t miss the Pymatuning Spill Way.  That’s where you get to feed the fish!  There are so many, the duck’s walk on their backs!!
  3.  Pittsburgh, PA. It’s a cultural hub for all the arts and it’s the home of our three major league sports teams, the Steelers, the Penguins, and the Pirates.  The Strip District is in downtown Pittsburgh and is a great market place filled with lots of people, cooking street vendors, markets with fresh produce, restaurants, places to shop, and the home of the Mancini breads and the Primanti Brothers’ famous super stuffed sandwich with French fries.  Oh, and if you listen carefully, you’ll pick up some of the famous Pittsburghese language!  Fun!

With a background in teaching, can you give us a few tips on capturing a child’s attention and relaying a moral lesson?

Phew – that’s a big question!!  I may not answer your exact question, but here’s what came to mind as I reflected on it.

  • Make learning fun!  When kids are engaged, they will take more ownership for their own learning.
  • Help kids develop confidence!  I had very little confidence as a kid – all the way through adulthood.  I recognized this weakness in myself, so I made it a goal to try to help develop confidence in my own children and my students.  Kids have vivid imaginations.  I’ve found that if kids can tap into their own creativity and develop ideas – without judgment – they will develop more confidence.
  • Teach tolerance!  Everyone, kids and adults, all of us, have gifts and talents.  Our interests and abilities vary.  We are not the same.  I believe that we have all come here to share our gifts and talents, and to share our differences.  How boring we would be if we were all the same!!  Each one of us is an integral piece of a gigantic universal puzzle.

 

What do your grandchildren think of Grammy Pags the Author? Storytime with Grammy Pags

Our grandchildren are young – ages 7 to 1.5.  The younger ones don’t know what an author is.  However, our oldest grandson, Orion, totally gets it!  Orion was the inspiration for the story, “Three Little Gnomes and a Boy Named Orion.”   The story has changed from the original version I wrote in 2009.  It’s longer and beautifully illustrated by Ratna Kusuma Halim of Indonesia.  I had a book launch birthday party for “The Three Little Gnomes” book and Orion came to the event and signed books too!  He was a star for the day and loved it!!

 

What can we expect from Rhonda Paglia in the next 12 months? 

Writing, writing, writing!

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?  Thank you for asking.  Here’s the contact info for GRAMMY PAGS STORIES

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Leana's book signing 2

  1. Have fun!  Do what you love!
  2. Frustration is part of the game.  Figure out why you are doing what you do, then figure out your goals, the reach for them.  What happens if you don’t reach?  A big NOTHING!   But if you reach, anything can happen!
  3. The kid’s book market is crazy huge.  Try to find your niche.  I’m still searching for mine!
  4. Write what you like and HAVE FUN!  For me, that’s my goal!  Girls just want to have fun!!  Well, this Grammy just wants to have fun too . . .  and maybe give my readers a few smiles!!

Wow! Thanks for sharing with us today Rhonda. I love the fact that you’ve been honest and just loving the journey. I love your advice about writing what you like and having fun. Rhonda and I would love to hear any questions or comments you may have. I hope her zest for life has been an inspiration for you as it has for me. Remember to share this interview on social media using the social buttons and grab one of Rhonda’s books at the link below

Rhonda Paglia Books on Amazon

 

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9. Of Rafts and Feasts


In remembrance, 
       I find thanksgiving.
In remembrance, I find a feast.

It's in big things, like remembering
rough stones that have lined my journey,
and seeing them smooth some of my sharp edges.
Like the poets, I count the ways.

I count that it's been over one year since I had a stroke
and heart surgery,
and here I am,
heart-strong and feet-steady.
Playing soccer.
When I remember, there are skeins of thanksgiving
woven into this heart.

Six months since Winnie’s leg, the worrisome spot,
the relieving news, the surgery. 
There are not enough words for this kind of thanksgiving.

This is life. There will be stormy days for all of us.
But remembrance is my feast.
thankfulness is my life raft.

I find thankfulness indeed when I count the big things.
And I find joy in the small.
 
Like when the wind pulls umbrellas
and makes us think, just for a moment, that we might fly.

Or in gathering leaves.
Reading books.
Lighting candles.
Twirling till we’re dizzy.

Holding hands.
Hugs.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.
I am thankful for you.
Thankful that we share this earth,
with all of our colorful, quirky differences.
What a feast!






Books!

Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson, ill. by Pamela Dalton
Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock, ill. by Doris Ettlinger
The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
Psalm 23 illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson
 



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10. Chicanonautica: What Do You Want to Know?



2014 just wants to keep on running me ragged. Things keep happening (besides the riots and the racial strife). Not only is the new Digital Parchment Services/Strange Particle Press ebook of Cortez on Jupiterorderable, but the press release is available, so you can read about the impending soft-cover edition, find out where to write about getting review copies, and read quotes of wild praise for the book.

If that isn’t enough, Digital Parchment has started a new Ernest Hogan blog so they can promote their editions of my books. They also started an Ernest Hogan Tumblr. I’ll be posting stuff on both of them, so check ‘em out!

Which brings me to the main subject of this post . . . the writer Nalo Hopkinson, who teaches at UC Riverside, sent me a direct message on Twitter (most of my sales and gigs these days come through the social media) asking if I would be willing to lead a workshop “on writing Latino-focused SF/F/H,” because “The community has been asking for it.” Ever the professional, I asked if it was a paying job, and it is, so it looks like in February 2015 I’ll be teaching a  master class (hey! I’m an expert in the field!) as part of their Writer’s Week. I will provide more details as I get them.

2015 and February are coming at us fast. I need to think about it, and take some notes . . . I could fill the time with funny stories about my weird career, but since this is a university thing, I should probably ask the communitythat Nalo was talking about what theywant. I’m assuming that a lot of you aspiring Chicanonauts read La Bloga.


So, what would you like to know about writing Latino-focused speculative fiction/fantasy/horror? Are there specific questions you’d like answered? Just what can I do for you?

I’ll be waiting for your comments . . .

Ernest Hogan has accumulated a lot of ancient Chicano Sci-Fi wisdom over the years. He’s willing to share it. Especially for money. Or food. Or cerveza. Oh yeah, feliz Día de Los Guajolotes.

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11. ZOO DIARY: THANKSGIVING TURKEY's DILEMMA


ZOO DIARY –THANKSGIVING – TURKEY’s DILEMMA

 
SCENE: CITY ZOO

Thanksgiving eve. The zoo denizens are upset with the zoo directorate having not been included in the Thanksgiving celebrations

RAT

Once again, we’re not included in Thanksgiving festivities

ZEBRA

Did you really expect to? I mean, why should they? Who are we? Merely the tools in which they make money. That’s all - and how do they thank us? Closing the zoo for the day so we can’t even expect extra treats from visitors. This is so typically…human
 
SOUND: GOBBLE-GOBBLE… GOBBLE-GOBBLE….

RAT

What’s that noise?

ZEBRA

Noise? What noise? Are my stripes straight?

RAT

You don’t hear that?

ZEBRA

‘You are magnificent… Those teeth…those sparkling eyes…’

RAT

Maybe if you’d get your face away from that mirror and stop admiring yourself…

ZEBRA

A person has to make sure that he looks good from every angle. Being the sole representative of the zebra specie in this zoo comes with a responsibility. A daily body examination is necessary to ensure that all my black stripes are evenly spaced on my perfectly white skin. ‘Yesssss! Perfection personified!’

RAT

Far be it to burst your bubble, Zeeb…

ZEBRA

…I am not zeeb - or zebby - or zeeby-baby. I’m a zebra. Z-E-B-R-A!

RAT

Gotcha Zebby-boy – like I was sayin’ – the way that I see it, the stripe on your upper right leg doesn’t well…match the left

 ZEBRA

What?! You must be mistaken. It’s not possible… How could this be? I just checked it not two minutes ago and it was perfectly aligned

(MANNY, the boa constrictor slithers in)

Hey – how ‘ya doin’?

RAT

Manny – you’re out. Free. Did you eat lunch, yet?

ZEBRA

Yes Manny – I do hope they’ve fed you some nourishment. I mean, it’s important to keep up your strength. We don’t want you slithering around hungry looking for anybody, heh-heh…

RAT

That’s the last thing we want…being that we’re your friends and all…that is to say, we don’t want you to experience hunger pangs…

MANNY

As I remember, I had a nibble a month ago. Sure is quiet around here. No humans to knock on the glass of my enclosure

NOISE: GOBBLE-GOBBLE  GOBBLE-GOBBLE…

RAT

There it is again. Sounds familiar-like…

(a turkey suddenly drops down from a tree)

TURKEY

Save me!

ZEBRA

A tree chicken. Never knew chickens live in trees.

TURKEY

I am a turkey who requires sanctuary

RAT

Listen chicken…

TURKEY

…turkey…I am – um – an endangered specie. Yes – that’s it and am declaring myself on the extinct list thus requiring sanctuary

ZEBRA

You must be someone important judging by your extensive vocabulary. All cultured and important species have an extensive vocabulary – and a beautiful body, of course

 TURKEY

I am. In fact, I can state with absolute knowledge that I am number one on everyone’s hit list, today

MANNY
(slithering closer)

Well I for one, believe you. You do look very appealing – in an endangered species way of course

RAT

Wish we could help, turkey, but we live out in the open

ZEBRA

I could send a protest letter to the Zoos of America if that could assist you in any way

TURKEY

I am doomed!

MANNY
(slithering almost directly in front of TURKEY)

Well turkey – really feel for you, in the true sense of the word. I just happen to live inside in a huge glass enclosure that has lots of hiding places.  Why don’t you come back to my pit and check things out? I live alone and there’s nobody to bother or see us

TURKEY
That’s a very generous offer on your part –

MANNY

-          Manny –

TURKEY

Manny

MANNY

Anything for a friend in need.

(the two start to make their way to MANNY’s place)

(cont’d.) Did anyone ever tell you that you have a beautiful, full body. I bet under all those feathers, you have nice firm flesh

TURKEY

The farmer takes good care of me. You can see for yourself when we get back to your pit.

 MANNY

Oh I intend to

TURKEY

Can I give you a hug?

MANNY

Later…when we’re alone…they’ll be plenty of hugging to go around…

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12. SAV5 vector presets experiments


Experimenting with various vector based presets
looking for both a natural media appearance and something different

The detail here shows off a few of the presets effects




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13. Oscar-Contender Signe Baumane On Why Animation Beats Live-Action for Some Stories

Signe Baumane talks about why animation was a better choice than live-action for her feature film debut "Rocks in My Pockets."

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14. Earth to YA, Part 1: Environmental Ethics and the Young Adult Author

Lately I’ve been feeling a lot of distress about the destruction of wild places, and my own part in that. I wonder if my new book is worth the trees it’s going to be printed on. I wonder if all the writing and publishing advice I’ve posted here over the years has done nothing but validate the smash and grab mentality that dominates our culture—get the book deal, get the movie deal, ten easy steps, let’s go! I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be successful, as an author or in any career, and the more I think about it, the louder the words of David W. Orr repeat themselves in my head:

The truth is that without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more efficient vandals of the earth.”

            In other words, the “success” for which we educate young people and to which we ourselves aspire is associated with exponentially higher levels of environmental destruction. And that really sucks.
            If you are a “successful” real estate developer, you bulldoze far more acres of forest or wetland than an unsuccessful one.
            If you are a “successful” YA author, you might take dozens of flights, sleep in dozens of corporate hotels, cause the production of thousands or even millions of junky tote bags, action figures, DVDs, pens, bookmarks, and other “swag” which will eventually end up in a landfill.
As authors, our motivation is to make friends with Barnes and Noble, not express distress at the way our landscapes have been turned into shopping malls. We’re supposed to be flattered if our publishers fly us places or go to the expense of making promotional materials, not perturbed at the waste it represents.
We talk about our responsibility to young readers, and the important work we do in reaching out to teens who are dealing with bullying, depression, eating disorders and rape—but too often we give a free pass to the consumer culture that turns even the most sincere among us into vandals. We leave it unquestioned. Or we don’t recognize the urgency of questioning it at all.
            My goal is not to make people feel guilty, or throw cold water on anybody’s success. On the contrary, I want to point out a fabulous opportunity.
Our books have the potential to influence generations of readers, and if we give them characters who love the wild earth, who reject the system that ties success to vandalism, who question and resist the destructive culture they’ve inherited—and not only in the context of flashy dystopias, but in contemporary fiction too—our world might have a chance.
And as role models for future generations of writers, we YA authors have a responsibility to challenge the culture we will eventually hand down to them, whether that means resisting cover whitewashing, rejecting wasteful practices in the publishing industry, or writing stories that provoke teens to fight for what really matters.

            Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be using this space to conduct a survey on Young Adult literature and the earth. 
             Let's just hope it's not successful.

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15. ‘One Minute on Earth’ by John Jones

Watch 'One Minute on Earth,' a short film by John Jones.

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16. Just right

Trying another scribble with the whole "achieve result with no work" method.
Trying to not labour everything  is a bit hit and miss.
Obviously I'd like it to be "just right".
Expressions are alright.
M c Escher would be proud of the bed- but lets call it rustic.


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17. Me-Time

I need some me-time,
Let things be-time,
Burden-free-time
To unwind.

But such flee-time,
Absentee-time,
Filled with glee-time
I can’t find.

So my plea, time,
Please agree, time;
Or you’ll see, time,
I’ll lose my mind.

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18. BOBBEE BEE:NO JUSTICE; NO PEACE!!

When someone comes at you with a gun, despite the fact that you’ve done nothing, he tells you, suffer peacefully. Pray for those who use you despitefully. Be long-suffering. And how long can you suffer after suffering for four hundred years?”Malcolm X: The White Man sold your history(1962)


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19. Mort & Phil Will Take on ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ in Spain This Weekend

There's a fascinating box office match-up brewing in Spain this weekend between DreamWorks Animation's "Penguins of Madagascar" and the homegrown Spanish CGI feature "Mortadelo y Filemón contra Jimmy el Cachondo."

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20. Artist of the Day: Vincent Djinda

Today we look at the work of Vincent Djinda, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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21. A5 Scribble of Epicness

Another bit of watercolour tomfoolery.
Kind of at the limits of my (failing) vision and brush tip at the teeny size- guys face is less than 1cm.


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22. French best of the year lists

       There's already been a flood of US/UK 'best of the year' (and the like) lists, but these aren't nearly as popular (or premature) abroad.
       One that's been around for a while is Lire's top twenty -- the best book in a variety of categories -- and they've now announced Le palmarès des 20 meilleurs livres de l'année selon la rédaction de Lire.
       Their book of the year is Limonov-author Emmanuel Carrère's Le Royaume (about which I continue to harbor doubts -- but it looks like I'll have to have a look at it, when/if I can get my hands on a copy; see also the P.O.L. publicity page).
       They named James Salter's All That Is the best foreign novel (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk), and Nii Ayikwei Parkes' Tail of the Blue Bird was named best foreign first novel. A Tanizaki was named best audiobook ....

       Le Point is the other periodical out with a(n early) top-of-the-year list -- again headed by the Carrère: Le palmarès "Le Point" des 25 livres de l'année. Salter makes their top 25, too (as does Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch -- a best foreign novel finalist on Lire's list). Of course, Hillary Clinton's Mémoires make Le Point's top-25 too, so .... forget that ?

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23. How to Steal a Dog Movie Pics AGAIN (but these are great)


The cast and director






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24. ABCs and 123s

There’s never a shortage of new alphabet and counting books. When I order new alphabet and counting books (or any concept book), I look for unique presentations of very common concepts. Alphabet and counting books range from the very simple to complex and creative story lines. My recent favorites include the following:

 

Baby Bear Counts One

(image from Simon & Schuster website)

Baby Bear Counts One (and its predecessor, Baby Bear Sees Blue) stars an endearing and realistically illustrated cub who counts his fellow creatures preparing for winter.  If a hibernation/migration story time or display is in your near future, make sure you include this one. Both Baby Bear books are rarely on our shelves for very long!

 

Backseat_chronicle books

(image from Chronicle Books website)

I’ve read enough “A is for” alphabet books that new ones really need to offer something different in order for us to add it to our collection. Backseat A-B-See offers so much to many groups of young readers: those learning the alphabet and those obsessed with all things car-oriented. Teaching the alphabet through the use of road signs is a genius idea; the bold and uncluttered illustrations makes this ideal for those too young to truly learn the alphabet (I recently bought this for my newborn niece!).

count_monkeys_author site

(image from Mac Barnett website)

Books that offer opportunities for audience interaction are always hugely popular. The wacky humor in Count the Monkeys makes this a great read aloud for children who already have the basics of counting down to a science. Counting these monkeys is indeed tricky, as they are easily scared by any number of things (including lumberjacks).

z is for moose_zelinsky site

(image from Paul O. Zelinsky website)

Z is for Moose is not your basic “A is for apple” picture book. This hilarious story about a moose with its nose out of joint when “M” in the letter pageant stands for “mouse” instead of “moose” teaches lessons of cooperation and sharing without being preachy in the slightest.

 

What are your favorite unique alphabet or counting books? Share in the comments!

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25. What Makes Your Protagonist Interesting?

What makes your protagonist interesting? Sparkling blue eyes? Rippling muscles? Brains? Money? Clothes?

Let's reword that. What makes a real flesh-and-blood person interesting? All of the things I mentioned above could be part of what draws your attention in the first place, but they aren't what holds your attention.

Just like a real person, the most important thing about your protagonist is that you have to care about him. I don't mean you have to like him. Many of the great protagonists aren't particularly likable. Ignatius J. Reilly, Holden Caulfield, Jay Gatsby, Scarlett O'Hara, Hamlet, Humbert Humbert and countless others are deeply flawed, sometimes to point of being straight-up unlikable. But the authors make us care about them. There has to be something sympathetic in the way even "bad" characters are portrayed, so we want to stick with them for a few hundred pages.

Some of the things that make a flawed character sympathetic are described below.

Action
A character who is not very active quickly becomes boring. A protagonist needs to protag. The things that happen in the story have to largely be due to her own actions. Maybe she makes the wrong choices, but those choices raise the stakes. We might not like the character's choices, but we want to know how she is going to get out of her predicament, or whether she even will. She can win or lose, but she has to put herself into situations that draw us in, and then through her own actions, get out of them or deepen the peril. When your main character is always a victim and relies heavily on others to solve her problems, she's not likely to be very interesting, or to grow (or fall) during the course of the story.

Wit
A clever character who pulls us along with his unusual or profound way of thinking, his humor, and the unique way he looks at the world can make us care about him, even if his actions aren't always (or ever) admirable.

Relatable Problems
Yeah, OK, your readers might never be expected to slay the dragon, defeat the evil wizard C'na'ard, and make the world safe for the Nine Peoples of Gerkin, but they will care more about your protagonist if he has to face problems they can relate to. Disloyalty, unrequited love, school or work or family that create problems, dealing with a world that is too big to handle, and many other problems can be worked into your story, problems your reader does have to face. If we relate to your character's issues, we care more about spending hours looking at the world through his eyes, watching

Strength of Character

Your character should always take a stand. She should have a goal and do whatever she needs to do to accomplish the goal. The character's journey doesn't need to be a straight line. In fact, it shouldn't be. But it should trend in a general direction defined by her values, whether the reader (or writer) shares the values or not. Her actions don't have to be predictable, but when we get to the end of the story, we should be able to look back and see that the characters actions were consistent with her values.

Vulnerability
We have to believe your character can fail. There are so many books, well-reviewed books, that have disappointed me because I never believed the protagonist was in peril. This tends to be a problem in YA fantasy, especially. A "Chosen One" character who is destined to defeat evil is not going to lose, and in some stories, the possibility of failure is never seriously raised. Every dangerous situation is easily defused without any serious peril. The character is perfect for the situation, and, well, let's face it: perfection is not very interesting. While it is unlikely that the protagonist is going to die, failure needs to be around every corner. The odds need to be against him. Death might not be a likely result, but it doesn't hurt if it does seem possible. Failure, however, might be worse than death, and with rising peril and a real likelihood of failure, we can't help but stay interested. It's like the proverbial train wreck we can't stop gawking at.


If your character creates the story through her actions, views the world through somewhat familiar eyes but in a unique and interesting way, is in real danger of failure or worse, and acts in a consistent-but-sometimes-surprising way, we'll be drawn into her world and her life, even if we don't always like her.

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